“A healthy diet is known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said lead author Dr Rossella Di Stefano, a cardiologist at the University of Pisa, Italy to Science Insider. “Fruits and vegetables exert their protective effects through plant polyphenols, which are found in cocoa, olive oil, and apples. Research has found that the Italian Panaia red apple has very high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants.”
The study tested to find out if there is a link between dark chocolates enriched with extra virgin olive oil and cardiovascular risk factors. It included 26 participants, 14 men and 12 women who had about three cardiovascular risk factors like smoking, dyslipidaemia, hypertension, or family history of cardiovascular disease. They were given 40 grams of dark chocolate daily for 28 days.
For 14 days it contained 10% extra virgin olive oil and for 14 days it contained 2.5% Panaia red apple. After the 28 days were over, the researchers concluded that chocolate enriched with olive oil was associated with increase of high-density lipoprotein which is the good cholesterol and a decreased blood pressure. There was also a decrease in triglyceride levels with apple-enriched chocolate.
Dr Di Stefano said: “We found that small daily portions of dark chocolate with added natural polyphenols from extra virgin olive oil was associated with an improved cardiovascular risk profile. Our study suggests that extra virgin olive oil might be a good food additive to help preserve our ‘repairing cells’, the EPC.”