For years, the heart benefits of dark chocolate have been widely spoken of in the health community. Well, that truth is going to be put to the test with 18,000 adults in Boston and Seattle. The study will be sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and Mars Inc, the creators of M&Ms.

Why Chocolate?

What is being tested is the property of chocolate known as cocoa flavanols. These are believed to act as vasodilators, which means they cause muscle cells inside the blood vessels to dilate. These relaxed blood vessels increase the amount of blood that flows, in turn decreasing your blood pressure. While dark chocolate has been held in high esteem, the darker the chocolate, the less sweet it becomes. Sweeteners must be added to make the cocoa taste better, which decreases the health benefit.

High-Powered Cocoa Pills

Mars Inc, has sponsored many studies of cocoa flavanols over the last several decades, and they have a patented way of extracting flavanols. This extraction process gives each pill a high concentration of the health-giving properties of chocolate. The participants will take two pills per day over the next four years, each capsule containing 750 milligrams of cocoa flavanols. This is the approximately the same amount as consuming five bars of chocolate each day.

Some of the participants will receive the true pills while the control group receives the placebo pills. Neither pill has any taste, so neither the researchers nor the participants will know who has which pill. Over time, each participant will be monitored to see how the drastic increase of cocoa flavanols affects their heart. Researchers will be closely watching the effect that these pills have on the body’s use of insulin, artery health, and other heart-related factors.

Heart Health: Continuing Care

If you are concerned about how your heart is doing, or if your primary care doctor recommends that you see a cardiologist, contact Dr. Dilip Mathew today. Dr. Mathew is Sarasota’s leading heart doctor and electrophysiologist. He has been performing AF ablations for Tampa Bay area residents since 2004 and also specializes in lead extraction and implanting pacemakers & defibrillators.