Feeling like a couch potato? Well, there’s good news and bad news. Chocolate has been shown to increase the blood flow to your legs, which in turn helps you walk more. The bad news? You have to be a lover of dark chocolate to see this benefit. Sorry milk chocolate, you’ve been left out in the cold again.

In what has to be the coolest medical study, researchers selected 20 older adults, aged between 60 and 78. Each patient had peripheral artery disease, which has a symptom list of narrow arteries affecting blood flow from the heart to brain, legs, hands and stomach.

People with the condition often experience symptoms of fatigue and pain in their hips or legs. To combat the symptoms, researchers tested dark chocolate, which contains polyphenols, and milk chocolate.

The study was set up in a pretty simple way. The group was divided into two, one for dark chocolate and the other milk. Each group had 40 grams of chocolate. The dark chocolate had cocoa content above 85 percent, and the milk less than 30 percent.

With the chocolate intake static, the groups then spent time on the treadmill. First in the morning to form a baseline, and then two hours after they had the chocolate. Those who ate the dark chocolate walked 11 percent further. Now there’s a performance-enhancing drug I can get behind. Beats needles any day.

Before you get too excited, researchers are urging you not to down chocolate bars daily to boost your endurance. They suggest you get your polyphenols from other sources that aren’t high in sugar and fat. I guess the study wouldn’t make quite the splash if they were testing the effects of cloves on endurance.

Regardless, the trial was small, so expect a bigger one sometime in the future to confirm the findings and further test polyphenols.

The full study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.


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