PAD: Polyphenols in Dark Chocolate May Improve Peripheral Artery Disease

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Lorenzo Loffredo, MD and Francesco Violi, MD
Department of Internal Medicine and Medical Specialties
Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy;

MedicalResearch: What are the main findings of the study?

Answer: Dark chocolate is rich of polyphenols; these natural substances exert antioxidant properties and, through an increase of nitric oxide, dilate arteries. Our research group applied this effect to enhance blood flow in a very common disease, the peripheral arterial disease. This disease is characterized by reduced blood flow to the limbs. There are not any drugs that improve this blood flow, but dark chocolate could.

Our study suggest that dark chocolate, and only dark chocolate, could reduce oxidative stress and improve blood flow and walking autonomy in patients with peripheral arterial disease. We observed no effect on blood flow, oxidative stress and on walking autonomy in PAD patients after milk chocolate assumption. This lack of effect was probably due to the low concentration of polyphenols in milk chocolate.


MedicalResearch: Were any of the findings unexpected?

Answer: No, because previous studies demonstrated that dark chocolate produce beneficial effects 2 hours after ingestion. The maintenance of the effect requires further studies.

MedicalResearch: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Answer: After eating the dark chocolate, PAD patients walked an average 11 percent farther and 15 percent longer. Oxidative stress, arterial dilation and walking autonomy were assessed 2 hours after eating dark chocolate.

We gave 40 grams of dark chocolate (about 200 calories); it is necessary to control the total daily amount of calories. Only after future studies with chronic assumption of dark chocolate we’ll have information about cardiovascular diseases and walking autonomy in this setting.

MedicalResearch: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Answer: This is a pilot study. If the results of our studies will be confirmed by future studies with chronic ingestion of polyphenols, it would open novel therapeutic strategies in this setting using a natural substance.

However, chronic assumption in follow-up is necessary to evaluate if the beneficial effect in terms of walking autonomy and reduction of oxidative stress is still effective.

Citation:

Dark Chocolate Acutely Improves Walking Autonomy in Patients With
Peripheral Artery Disease

Lorenzo Loffredo, MD; Ludovica Perri, MD; Elisa Catasca, MD; Pasquale Pignatelli, MD; Monica Brancorsini, NP; Cristina Nocella, PhD;
Elena De Falco, PhD; Simona Bartimoccia, PhD; Giacomo Frati, MD; Roberto Carnevale, PhD; Francesco Violi, MD

DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.114.001072 Journal of the American Heart Association