A new study by University of Pisa found that eating dark chocolate with extra virgin olive oil improves cardiovascular risk profile.
According to new research presented at European Society of Cardiology, eating dark chocolate infused with olive oil may help endothelial function. Endothelial function is driven by endothelial progenitor cells, which are vital for blood vessel function and repair.
The study took 26 volunteers (14 men, 12 women) with cardiovascular risk factors such as smoking, dyslipidaemia, hypertension, or family history of cardiovascular disease. The group was given 40 grams of dark chocolate daily for 28 days. For 14 consecutive days it contained 10% extra virgin olive oil and for 14 consecutive days it contained 2.5% Panaia red apples. Dark chocolate, olive oil, and apple all contain polyphenols which are rich in antioxidants.
After being administered the two types of chocolate, the participants’ urine and blood samples were analyzed. Circulating endothelial progenitor cells were evaluated while smoking status, body mass index, blood pressure, glycasemia and lipid profile were also monitored.
The results showed that olive oil-infused chocolate was associated with increased levels of high-density lipoprotein (the good cholesterol) and decreased blood pressure compared to baseline. It was also associated with higher levels of endothelial progenitor cells compared to baseline than apple-enriched chocolate. Dr. Di Stefano, the lead author of the study stated, “Our study suggests that extra virgin olive oil might be a good food additive to help preserve our ‘repairing cells,’ the endothelial progenitor cells.”
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