April 16, 2010
VIENNA, AustriaEating dark chocolate reduces damage to the blood vessels of cirrhotic patients and also lowers blood pressure in the liver, according to new research presented at the International Liver Congress 2010, the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Liver in Vienna.
Dark chocolate contains potent antioxidants that reduce the post-prandial blood pressure in the liver associated with damaged liver blood vessels. The data also showed that eating dark chocolate may exert additional beneficial effects throughout the whole body. In comparison, white chocolate, which contains no beneficial phytochemicals, did not result in the same effects.
In the study 21 cirrhotic patients with end stage liver disease (child score 6.9±1.8;MELD 11±4; hepatic venous pressure gradient (HPVG*)16.6±3.8mmHg) were randomized to receive a standard liquid meal. Ten patients received the liquid meal containing dark chocolate (containing 85% cocoa, 0.55g of dark chocolate/Kg of body weight) while 11 patients received the liquid meal containing white chocolate which is devoid of cocoa flavonoids (antioxidant properties) according to body weight. HVPG, arterial pressure and portal blood flow (PBF) were measured at baseline and 30 minutes after meal administration, using a US-Doppler.
Both meals caused a highly significant but similar increase in portal blood flow with a +24% increase in dark chocolate compared to +34% in those patients who received white chocolate. Interestingly, post-prandial hyperaemia was accompanied by an increase in HVPG resulting in a statistically significant increase (17.3±3.6mmHg to 19.1±2.6mmHg, p=0.07) for those patients eating dark chocolate and those receiving white chocolate (16.0±4.7mmHg to 19.7±4.1mmHg, p=0.003). Post-prandial increase in HVPG was markedly reduced in patients receiving dark chocolate (+10.3±16.3% vs +26.3±12.7%, p=0.02).
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