Monday, April 19, 2010

Dark Chocolate May Help Liver Patients

Source: Reuters Health (Summary by NIM)

Cocoa beans are amazing little things. In their purest form, they are actually quite good for us! Most of us reap the benefits of cocoa's goodness in the form of chocolate perhaps more often than we should, but if we choose the dark kind, we are doing our health a big favour. It is even helpful for individuals with liver problems.

We already know that dark chocolate is great for our hearts, and Spanish researchers have just found that individuals with liver cirrhosis who consume dark chocolate can actually reduce their abdominal and liver blood pressure, which is helpful in managing their disease. Cirrhosis results in weak blood vessels in the liver, so high or even regular blood pressure circulating through the area can cause those vessels to rupture.

The researchers believe that antioxidants called flavinols in cocoa are responsible for this effect, in that they widen and relax the blood vessels. In the study, participants consumed 85% dark chocolate or white chocolate (contains no cocoa at all), and it was found that those who consumed the dark chocolate with meals demonstrated a significant reduction in liver blood pressure.

One key point to remember, folks, is that you don't need very much dark chocolate each day for better health. Just like with nuts, seeds, oils and other healthy fats, you only need a small amount to see health benefits, as otherwise you're just consuming a whack of calories!

Read the article called "Chocolate may be good medicine for liver patients" from Reuters Health (Apr. 15, 2010).