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Feel Pain When Walking? Try Dark Chocolate!

Here's another new study linking to two passions of mine: dark chocolate and mitochondria. Mitochondria are very susceptible to damage from free-radicals, and the primary site for free-radical production in the electron transport chain (the series of complexes in the mitochondria responsible for energy production) is Complex I.

Complex I, therefore, is implicated in impairing flow‐mediated dilation (FMD), meaning blood vessels can't relax and open properly. Dark chocolate exerts artery dilatation via down‐regulating the specific part of Complex I that plays a key role in generating free-radicals. The aim of this study was to investigate whether administrering dark chocolate as a therapeutic agent can improve walking in those with peripheral artery disease (PAD) via an oxidative stress‐mediated mechanism.

Maximal walking distance (MWD) and maximal walking time (MWT) were studied in 20 PAD patients (14 males and 6 femalesrandomly allocated to 40 g of dark chocolate (>85% cocoa) or 40 g of milk chocolate (≤35% cocoa) in a single blind, cross‐over design. 

Dark chocolate intake significantly increased MWD, MWT, and serum nitric oxide (a vasodilator), while no changes of the above variables were observed after milk chocolate intake. Serum epicatechin (one of the beneficial compounds in chocolate) and its methylated metabolite also significantly increased only after dark chocolate ingestion. 

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Source: Dark chocolate acutely improves walking autonomy in patients with peripheral artery disease

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