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People usually adopt a healthy diet for three reasons –

1.To look better.
2.To lose weight.
3.Because their doctor told them to.

As a doctor, there’s one thing I see firsthand in my patients: they could have the power to stop ailments before they begin – or at least to ease symptoms associated with certain ailments.

One of the big reasons I advise folks to get plenty of polyphenols into their diets is that polyphenols – the micronutrients with antioxidant power found most often in plant foods like vegetables, spices, red wine, and cocoa – play a bigger part than you might think when it comes to preventing and reducing the appearance of some of the biggest health challenges we face – including cardiovascular issues.

So, naturally, I was thrilled when I discovered that a recent, cutting-edge study has shown that the polyphenols in cocoa and olive oil have a truly positive impact when it comes to reducing the risk of certain heart-related issues.

Chocolate meets Extra Virgin Olive Oil …

Now, the study was conducted by a respected cardiologist at the University of Pisa, Italy. He wanted to research the ways in which specific fruits and vegetables exhibit their protective effects through polyphenols. He chose to study the polyphenols in cocoa and olive oil.

So, his study tested to see if consuming dark chocolate enriched with extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) could help keep the arteries in healthy individuals with cardiovascular risk factors from further hardening, or narrowing. This particular issue – also called atherosclerosis – can slowly block your arteries, putting your blood flow at risk.

The study included men and women with three or more cardiovascular risk factors, like –

  • Hypertension (aka high blood pressure)
  • Smoking
  • Dyslipidemia (aka high “bad” or low “good” cholesterol)
  • Family history of cardiovascular disease

The subjects of the study were given 40 grams of dark chocolate every day for 28 days. For half of that time, the chocolate was enriched with extra virgin olive oil and for the other half of that time, the chocolate was enriched with polyphenols from a highly antioxidant Italian red apple.

The results of the study …

At the end of the 28 day period, the cardiologist and his team discovered that –

The chocolate enriched with olive oil performed really well. First, it was associated with significantly increased EPC levels.1 EPCs – circulating endothelial progenitor cells – are hugely important when it comes to vascular repair and support of blood vessel function.

Second, the EVOO enriched chocolate was associated with significantly increased “good” cholesterol and even a decrease in blood pressure.2 There was no such result with the apple-enriched chocolate.

The Takeaway

Turns out, it’s possible that small portions of dark chocolate every day, with added natural polyphenols from EVOO, can improve your heart health profile.

Adding EVOO to your diet could also have a truly significant impact when it comes to helping support your “fix it cells” – the vascular repair system known as your EPCs. For creative ways to get EVOO in your diet, watch Dr. Gundry’s How To Get More Olive Oil in Your Diet video.

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