Reuters Health Information (2010-04-15): Chocolate may be good medicine for liver patients
Chocolate may be good medicine for liver patients
Last Updated: 2010-04-15 17:18:02 -0400 (Reuters Health)
LONDON (Reuters) - Cocoa-rich dark chocolate could be prescribed for people with liver cirrhosis in the future, following the latest research to show potential health benefits of chocolate.
Spanish researchers said on Thursday that eating dark chocolate capped the usual after-meal rise in abdominal blood pressure, which can reach dangerous levels in cirrhotic patients and, in severe cases, lead to blood vessel rupture.
A study of 21 patients with end-stage liver disease found those given a meal containing 85 percent-cocoa dark chocolate had a markedly smaller rise in portal hypertension than those given white chocolate.
"This study shows a clear association between eating dark chocolate and (lower) portal hypertension and demonstrates the potential importance of improvements in the management of cirrhotic patients," said Mark Thursz, a professor of hepatology at London's Imperial College.
Antioxidant flavanols found in cocoa are believed to be the reason why chocolate is good for blood pressure because the chemicals help the smooth muscle cells of the blood vessels to relax and widen.
The results were presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver in Vienna and follow a number of earlier scientific studies suggesting that dark chocolate also promotes heart health.