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Dark Chocolate May Up Walking Distance in PAD Patients

THURSDAY, July 10, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Consumption of dark chocolate may improve walking autonomy in patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to research published online July 2 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Lorenzo Loffredo, M.D., of the Sapienza University of Rome, and colleagues randomly assigned 20 patients with PAD (14 males and six females; mean age, 69 ± 9 years) to 40 g of dark chocolate (>85 percent cocoa) or 40 g of milk chocolate (≤35 percent cocoa) in a single-blind, cross-over study.

At two hours after dark chocolate ingestion, the researchers observed significant increases (all P < 0.001) in maximal walking distance (+11 percent), maximal walking time (+15 percent), and serum levels of nitrite/nitrate (NOx) (+57 percent). They also observed significant decreases in serum levels of isoprostanes (−23 percent; P = 0.01) and sNOX2-dp, a marker of blood NOX2 activity (−37 percent; P < 0.001). No significant changes in these variables were observed after ingestion of milk chocolate. Serum levels of epicatechin and its methylated metabolite increased significantly following ingestion of dark, but not milk, chocolate.

"In conclusion, the results of this study suggest that short-term administration of dark chocolate improves walking autonomy with a mechanism involving its high content of polyphenols and perhaps mediated by an oxidative stress mechanism, which ultimately leads to enhanced nitric oxide generation," the authors write.

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