Dark Chocolate Antioxidants: How It Can Help PAD Patients

Dark chocolate antioxidants has shown to offer many dark-chocolate-diethealth benefits, and new research has shown that it helps PAD patients as well. Learn more about this dark chocolate study and its underlying implications.

Dark chocolate antioxidants help PAD patients

It is not news that walking has many health benefits, but a recent study found that a sweet treat might make walking a little easier for you if you have painful cramping courtesy of peripheral artery disease or PAD. Previous research has shown the possible benefits of eating dark chocolate has led to even more studies. Recently, studies found that consuming moderate amounts of dark chocolate before exercise might help PAD patients walk longer. The researchers believe that the dark chocolate’s polyphenol content help relax narrowed arteries and improve blood flow, making walking a little easier.

Blood Vessel Disease and Claudication

Claudication is painful cramping that happens when atherosclerosis or clogged arteries prevent sufficient blood from reaching your muscles, mostly in the calves and legs. Patients with PAD mostly have atherosclerosis and several symptoms that include claudication. They have a high risk for coronoary artery disease, stroke and heart attack. Dark chocolate has polyphenols, a kind of antioxidant that is believed to help moderate and prevent the clogging of arteries. The higher the cocoa content in a particular dark chocolate, the higher is the amount of polyphenol per serving and the more healthy properties there are in dark chocolate.

Testing the Theory

A new study conducted on a university in Italy set out to determine if eating dark chocolate will help people with PAD walk without pain. Twenty participants walked as far as they can on a treadmill and then consumed 40 grams of dark chocolate with 85 percent cocoa. Two hours later, they walked on the treadmill once again. During the second time, the subjects who ate the dark chocolate posted modest gains, walking 17 seconds longer than their earlier, pre-chocolate walk. Researchers tried this very same experiment with milk chocolate but did not yield the same results. In theory, the polyphenol-rich dark chocolate might have help relax the blood vessels so there is increased blood flow to impacted calves and legs.

Limitations of the Study

Vascular medicine specialists found this dark chocolate study is very interesting but gave caution against reading too much into it. It should be noted that the study is very small, so it would be hard to know just how ultimately significant this will be. Also, the participants all had claudication, which is another limiting factor in the study. There is a big population out there that suffer from peripheral artery disease, but only about 11 percent of them really have intermittent claudication. Therefore, it would really be interesting to find out just what impact dark chocolate can have among patients who do not suffer from this particular health condition.

Dark Chocolate Antioxidants: Eat Dark Chocolate Moderately

This study might have whet the appetite of researchers for more involved studies, which should hopefully enlarge the scope and rigor of the investigations. In the meantime, if you love eating dark chocolate, continue doing so moderately. However, do not take any kind of dark chocolate diet or antioxidant supplements. New studies debunk myths about resveratrol in dark chocolate or red wine helping decrease the risk for cardiovascular disease. Even though the healthy dark chocolate and antioxidants that are studied here are different from resveratrol, the message remains to be the same: Consume healthy foods and a balanced diet, and leave the supplements on the store shelf.

Experts temper the good news about dark chocolate bar with some common-sense advice. After all, who would not want to eat dark chocolate to feel better? But there is a lot more bang for your buck when it comes to managing the traditional risk factors for PAD, including avoiding type 2 diabetes, quitting smoothing and engaging in physical activity. Talk to your doctor for more about dark chocolate health benefits as well as tips on how to handle and deal with your PAD symptoms.

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