Dark Chocolate May Offer
Protection Against DNA Damage
Consumption of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate may protect DNA
from oxidative damage, preventing artery hardening and heart disease,
says a new study.
Writing in the British Journal of Nutrition, Italian researcher
report that consumption of dark chocolate containing 860 milligrams
of polyphenols, and 58 milligrams of epicatechin, led to a 20
per cent reduction in DNA damage two hours after consumption.
The study adds to an ever growing body of science supporting
the cardiovascular benefits of polyphenol-rich chocolate.
Led by Angela Spadafranca from the University of Milan and using
chocolate supplied by Ferraro, the researchers assigned 20 healthy
subjects with an average age of 24.2 to consume a balanced diet
for four weeks. After two weeks the group was split in two, with
one group receiving additional dark chocolate, while the other
receiving white chocolate.
Measurements taken at regular intervals after consumption showed
that the benefits were observed relatively quickly, with increases
in blood levels of catechin observed two hours after consumption
of the dark chocolate, with coincidental decreases in DNA damage
in mononuclear blood cells.
However, the effects were not observed 22 hours after consumption,
leading the researchers to speculate that this was related to
the kinetics of the flavonoids.
"Similar epicatechin plasma levels at two hours following
consumption of cark chocolate on the first and last occasions
are not associated with a long-term increase in epicatechin plasma
concentrations, and suggest that flavonoid plasma levels are dependent
upon intake from recent food sources," wrote the researchers.
The present results are clinically encouraging especially
in the field of the diet therapy of obesity, pathology related
to greater incidence of cardiovascular disease and cancer,
In fact, dark chocolate, habitually excluded by hypoenergetic
diets for its high-fat and energy content, is a sweet food that
should be reconsidered: if included in controlled amounts, in
a weight loss programme it could have healthy effects, and could
improve the compliance of patients to diet therapy, added
Spadafranca and her co-workers.
A tasty market
Chocolate is big business. Market researcher, Euromonitor, puts
the market at $100bn and notes the rise of dark and premium chocolate
that is boosting the category but remains at little more than
a few per cent with the bulk of the growth coming from North America
Euromonitor estimates the global market for functional chocolate
at $371.9m in 2009, growing to $460.3m in 2012. In 2002 it was
worth only $141.5m.
In 2009 the bulk of sales are coming from the Asia Pacific at
$175m, followed by North America at $93.8m and western Europe
But North America is expected to overtake next year and will
be worth $128.2m in 2012, compared to near-stagnant western Europe
at $103.2m. The Asia Pacific will be worth $221.2m by then.
Reference Sources 184
December 7, 2009