Page last updated at 08:54 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 09:54 UK

Chocolate study volunteers wanted

Dark chocolate
The potential benefits of dark chocolate are being assessed

Volunteers are wanted by researchers to see how compounds in dark chocolate might help fight heart disease.

The scientists in Aberdeen aim to assess how flavonoids, found naturally in cocoa, could fend off disease.

Forty volunteers aged between 18 and 70 will be asked to eat a cocoa-rich dark chocolate specially made for the study, standard chocolate, or white chocolate.

Urine and blood samples will then be taken to assess the impact the compounds have on blood function.

Perhaps studies like ours could ultimately lead to these special compounds being included in healthier foods or in health supplements
Luisa Ostertag
Study researcher

Dr Baukje de Roos, principal investigator from the University of Aberdeen Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health, said: "A main characteristic of cardiovascular disease is impaired blood flow and the formation of blood clots.

"Platelets play a key role in our blood preventing bleeding if we have suffered a cut or a wound. But in disease conditions platelets can go into overdrive and stick together forming blood clots and blocking blood vessels.

"We already know that flavonoids can stop platelets from sticking together but we don't know how they do this."

Dr Roos said: "Our study will help us understand how these flavonoids may benefit blood platelets and, in turn, help protect against cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke."

'Not the answer'

Luisa Ostertag, a fellow study researcher from the university, added: "The standard and white chocolate bars are being used as a control in the study as they will have no benefit on platelets because it is the compounds in cocoa that hold the key.

"But 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."

Cardiovascular disease is one of the main causes of death in the UK.

Anyone interested in taking part in the study, who has no health problems, can contact 01224 716693 or email l.ostertag@abdn.ac.uk



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