Comment »Posted on Saturday 25 April 2009 at 4:25 pm by Jacob Aron
In Health & Medicine

It sounds too good to be true, but it’s not; researchers in Aberdeen really are looking for volunteers to eat chocolate in the name of science. It’s all to do with flavonoids. We’ve met these antioxidants before in another chocolate story when Italian scientists discovered that 6.7 grams of dark chocolate a day could protect from heart disease.

The team from Aberdeen will be investigating the same effect, and they need forty volunteers to help them out. Anyone stepping up to the challenge must be between 18 and 70, and will be asked to eat either plain chocolate, white chocolate, or a specially prepared high-cocoa dark chocolate. As previous research has shown, its the dark chocolate full of flavonoids that aid against heart disease, so the two other flavours are just there as a control.

Researchers at the University of Aberdeen Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health are hoping to discover how flavonoids can help. Interaction with platelets, a type of blood cell that aids in clotting, is thought to be key. We already know that platelets can form dangerous blood clots in heart disease sufferers, and that flavonoids can stop this from happening. What we don’t know is how this mechanism works.

Luisa Ostertag, a researcher on the study, was keen to point out that mountains of chocolate is not the answer to curing heart disease (quite the opposite in fact) but the research could lead to flavonoids being added to more healthy foods:

“Eating a lot of dark chocolate bars is not the answer to protecting against cardiovascular disease because they are high in saturated fat and sugar.

“But perhaps studies like ours could ultimately lead to these special compounds being included in healthier foods or in health supplements.”

So, if you’d like to get your hands on some free chocolate, and don’t mind submitting a few blood and urine samples in the name of science, contact 01224 716693 or email l.ostertag@abdn.ac.uk for further details.


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