I’m sure you’ve heard this before: chocolate is actually really good for you. Of course, if you’re looking to receive the benefits of chocolate, you’re going to have to opt for the dark variety as opposed to milk or—god forbid—white chocolate.
Chocolate is made from cocoa, which is chalked full of all sorts of different beneficial health properties. A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association claims that dark chocolate, which is rich in a nutrient called polyphenol that reduces oxidative stress, can improve your circulation.
The study was made up of 20 participants who have peripheral artery disease—PAD. These individuals frequently experience blood flow problems, especially to the limbs that are furthest from the heart.
Half of the 20 received 40 grams of 85 percent cocoa dark chocolate, while the remaining participants received 40 grams of milk chocolate. They were put through a treadmill test to determine whether or not the chocolate helped them walk.
The results “of [the] study suggest that short-term administration of dark chocolate improves walking autonomy with a mechanism involving its high content of polyphenols and perhaps mediated by an oxidative stress mechanism, which ultimately leads to enhanced NO generation.”
NO refers to nitric oxide, which is responsible to dilating blood vessels. Dilated blood vessels equate to improved blood circulation to all parts of the body.
Unfortunately, the results were not substantial enough to recommend dark chocolate as a primary treatment for circulation problems. However, it does make for an excellent addition to a treatment regime you be already be following.
Other tips to boost circulation
Some additional tips to boosting your blood circulation are as follows:
- Quit smoking cigarettes. Nicotine is a vasoconstrictor, which causes the arteries to become smaller, essentially making it harder for the heart to pump blood. Not only that, but it increases blood pressure.
- Manage your cholesterol. High cholesterol can cause fatty deposits to form in your arteries, also making it harder for blood to pump through them. What’s worse is that they can break off and become blood clots.
- Keep moving. Exercise is very important to keeping your blood circulating healthily and not having it pool in the feet and legs.
- Meditation. You wouldn’t think it, but meditation has been proven to reduce blood pressure pretty drastically, and it’s quite simple. However, it is quite the commitment, as you would need to meditate daily to attain the relaxation response that lowered blood pressure is attributed to.
With all of that said, there are many ways to manage your blood pressure that don’t require the use of drugs. However, it’s important to consult with your physician and if they determine that you need drugs, please use them. Meditation and chocolate work better as supplements to pre-existing treatment.
Related: Another reason chocolate is good for your health