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Dark Chocolate May Help Improve Performance of Cyclists

The flavanols in dark chocolate have been linked to increased bioavailability of nitric oxide. Increasing nitric oxide bioavailability has been shown to enhance performance during exercise. A new study has shown that flavanol-rich dark chocolate may help boost endurance and exercise performance in male cyclists with moderate training.

Participants in the study included nine moderately-trained male cyclists. They performed a series of fitness tests at the beginning of the study, then were assigned to consume 40 grams of either white or dark chocolate daily for two weeks. At the end of the two weeks, all of the participants underwent the same series of fitness tests.

The researchers found that the gas exchange threshold in the dark chocolate group increased 11% when compared with the white chocolate group and 21% when compared with baseline. The gas exchange threshold is a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness and endurance capacity.

They also noted that dark chocolate consumption was associated with a 17% increase in total distance covered when compared to baseline, and a 13% increase when compared with white chocolate.

Researchers from Kingston University in England conducted the study. It was published on December 15, 2015, in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition.

Pervious studies have shown that dark chocolate may help improve heart health and insulin resistance, and reduce blood pressure. To get the full health benefits of chocolate, consume darker chocolates, which contain more flavanols.

It’s important to keep in mind that excessive consumption of chocolate could negate the positive effects seen here and in other studies, as chocolate also has high fat, sugar, and calorie content. Your best bet is to eat small amounts of dark chocolate with high cocoa content.

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