- Published on February 1, 2011
- Written by Lexi Castagna
This article discusses new research concluding that dark chocolate may help Cirrhosis patients……
Study Says Dark Chocolate May Help Reduce Dangers For Cirrhosis Patients
by FEEDME on NOVEMBER 2, 2010
Dark chocolate has heart health benefits for those with cirrhosis and a related condition known as portal hypertension, according to a recent research project. This article explains the science behind this sweet news.|Dark chocolate is not only good for the heart. It can also be good for the liver, especially in anyone who has cirrhosis of the liver and a related condition known as portal hypertension. This article provides details.
Cirrhosis of the liver kills more between 10 and 15 thousand people each year in the United States alone. Recent statistics show it to be the 12th leading cause of disease-related death in the country.
Needless to say, any discoveries that offer the prospect of a longer, happier and healthier life to cirrhosis patients will come as welcome news. But recent research has discovered some especially happy – and somewhat surprising – findings: eating certain kinds of chocolate may actually prolong the lives of people with cirrhosis and other forms of advanced liver disease.
The announcement was made at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver in Vienna, Austria, in April 2010. The report described data revealing that dark chocolate reduced portal hypertension in patients with cirrhosis.
Knowing some basic information about portal hypertension and the nature of cirrhosis will help you understand the findings.
When normal liver tissue is sufficiently damaged, it is replaced by fibrous scar tissue. When a sufficient amount of scar tissue replaces healthy tissue in the liver, the condition is called cirrhosis. Normally, your liver can actually generate new cells, which it can use to replace cells that have suffered damage. However, once a certain amount of scar tissue has built up, the damage becomes irreversible. Cirrhosis blocks the flow of blood through the liver, and can eventually lead to liver failure – the liver’s complete inability to function.
The two most common causes of cirrhosis of the liver are alcohol abuse and hepatitis. Either of these causes can lead to several dangerous complications.
One such complication is known as portal hypertension. Portal hypertension is a form of high blood pressure that occurs in the portal vein, which brings blood to the liver from the digestive organs. This rise in blood pressure in the portal vein often causes veins known as varices to develop across the stomach and esophagus to bypass any blockages. Due to the fact that these blood vessels are fragile in the first place, and because they’re under an abnormal amount of pressure, ruptures are more likely to occur. These cirrhosis-related ruptures, which doctors call bleeding varices, are extremely dangerous.
But a group of medical researchers working in Spain discovered that cirrhosis patients could lower their risk of bleeding varices by eating dark chocolate.
After you eat a meal, blood pressure in your abdominal area usually rises as more blood flows to the liver. This is a dangerous situation for individuals with portal hypertension from cirrhosis. The increased abdominal blood pressure is more likely to cause damage or rupture.
Dark chocolate contains a lot of flavenoids, which are chemicals that have been proven to be beneficial for the body – especially the heart. It’s been demonstrated that they also reduce hypertension by relaxing veins and arteries and facilitating blood flow. Many kinds of chocolate do not contain flavenoids, but they are certainly present in dark chocolate. In fact, the darker the chocolate, the more flavenoid content is present.
During the study in Spain, subjects received either a meal of white chocolate to eat, or a meal containing 85 percent cocoa dark chocolate. Researchers said those who ate white chocolate had an increase in blood pressure that was greater than those who ate dark chocolate. This prompted researchers to conclude that eating dark chocolate could ultimately lower the odds of blood vessels rupturing in cirrhosis patients.
Nutritional research now shows that dark chocolate doesn’t belong in the same class as other chocolates. It’s actually more of a health food.
Because chocolate contains flavonoids, it offers many of the same health benefits as darkly colored vegetables. In fact, dark chocolate offers nearly eight times the amount of flavenoids found in strawberries.
Anyone with cirrhosis should actively search for strategies to prevent portal hypertension and bleeding varices. The research reported in Spain makes it clear that eating some dark chocolate after a meal could be a good idea for people with cirrhosis.
Click on |what is cirrhosis and causes of liver failure for more. Neal Kennedy is a retired TV news anchor, medical reporter and radio talk show host. He is a frequent contributor to Keeping Your Liver Healthy, a resource website about liver health and digestive wellness.