The study indicates that flavanols abundant in dark chocolate with high natural cocoa content enhance the body's production of nitric oxide which help dilate blood vessels, relax arteries and enhance blood flow.
Flavanols are flavonoids or potent plant-based antioxidants found in chocolates. Other types of flavonoids can be found in wine, tea, fruits and vegetables.
Another study suggests that flavanols can protect people from life-threatening blood clots. Research led by Carl L. Keen of the University of California, Davis found flavanols to prevent fat-like substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries.
All products containing natural cocoa (cacao) have flavano antioxidants, and the more natural cocoa there is in a of flavanol antioxidants it contains.
Such were the findings of a study sponsored by The Hershey Company in conjunction with Cornell University and Brunswick Laboratories.
Gram for gram, natural cocoa is one of the most concentrated sources of flavanol antioxidants among plant foods. Dark chocolate, with its ample natural cocoa, contains more heart-friendly flavonoids than red wine and green tea, as the Cornell University food scientists found.
With a high level of cacao, Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Bars are also a natural source of flavanol antioxidants.
The Hershey Company has developed a special seal to appear on labels of selected products to help consumers identify those products that are high in cacao and therefore contain higher levels of natural flavanol antioxidants.