Chocolate lovers are finding their fattening but tasty addiction could actually be ... good for them! Pull up a cup of cocoa and a chocolate pie with dark chocolate wedges sticking up from the crust and get healthy.
It may not be that easy or that tasty. Rich ice cream with candy bits in it from those two hippie fellows might not make the medical grade, but the latest research from Italy does show healthful benefits from chocolate. The study shows a certain kind of chocolate does increase arterial blood flow.
We may be surprised that something that tastes so good is actually good for you. We should not be surprised the Italians have found it out. Italy is the place to discover chocolate. I had a pretty and stylish young friend from Milano who used to bring me back chocolate balls of rich, dark chocolate with a liquid center of espresso coffee whenever she went home to visit. Nirvana.
There are also the memories of Ferrara's in Little Italy, New York, visited after gallery-hopping and dinner in Chinatown. It was worth the line to get to pick and choose from the lavish and rich selection of pastries. Chocolate hangs in the memory, an addiction far deeper than anything except tobacco, which will never be found to be good for you.
The study, titled “Cocoa beans, endothelial function and aging: an unexpected friendship?” was done at the Dipartimento di Medicina Interna e Sanità Pubblica, Università di L'Aquila, L'Aquila, Italy. A highly readable report was in the New York Times in an article by Nicholas Bakalar on 15 August entitled, “Circulation: Blood Flow Improves With New Mix of Cocoa.” The authors of the study, Dr. Naomi D. L. Fisher, the lead author, and her co-author Dr. Norman K. Hollenberg, published in the Journal of Hypertension in August. Please note, however, Mars, Inc. supported the study and supplied the cocoa.
Doctors Fisher and Hollenberg saw a “...significant increase in flow-mediated dilation, as measured by finger tonometry, in 15 healthy individuals aged under 50 years and 19 healthy individuals aged 50 years (or older,) after 4-6 days of cocoa supplementation.” They chose 34 subjects who were healthy without evidence of cardio-vascular, endocrine or kidney disease. None were on medications. Of the 34, 19 were over 50 years old. The study shows that the older the subject, the more the flavonol-rich cocoa worked.