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Dark chocolate boosts antioxidant levels

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GLASGOW, Scotland, Aug 27, 2003 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Chocolate increases blood antioxidants but consuming milk at the same time cancels the health benefits, says a new study from the University of Glasgow.

The speculation is milk might have the same effect on other antioxidant-rich foods, including fruit and green vegetables, reported Wednesday.

Researchers in Scotland and Italy looked at the body's absorption of an antioxidant found in cocoa, called epicatechin. Volunteers were given either plain chocolate or milk chocolate. Some were also given milk in the double-blind experiment. Then their antioxidant levels were tested.

"Those volunteers who had dark chocolate had a 20 percent increase in antioxidants in their plasma," said Alan Crozier, one of the research team. "But those who had milk chocolate, or milk with their dark chocolate, showed no increase in epicatechin plasma levels."

Crozier suggests it might be advisable to refrain from milk products in combination with chocolate.

Antioxidants lower the level of free-radicals in the blood. Prolonged exposure to free-radicals has been linked to cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Copyright 2003 by United Press International.

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