Dark chocolate made with extra virgin olive oil can improve your cardiovascular health, even if you have big risk factors such as a family history of heart disease, new research has found.
The study led by researchers at Italy’s University of Pisa found an association between eating the oil-enhanced chocolate and significantly increased levels of good cholesterol and decreased blood pressure in a group of 26 volunteers.
The volunteers each had at least three cardiovascular risk factors, such as a history of smoking or hypertension, and were given chocolate made with 10 percent extra virgin olive oil. They were also given chocolate containing Panaia red apple, which is known to have high levels of the same polyphenols and antioxidants as olive oil, so the effects could be compared.
They ate 40 grams of chocolate per day; for 14 days, the chocolate contained olive oil, and for 14 days it contained the apple.
The apple-enhanced chocolate failed to produce the benefits associated with oil-laced chocolate.
Rossella Di Stefano, a cardiologist at the university, who led the study, told Science Daily that the study indicated extra virgin olive oil could be used as a food additive to aid cell repair.
It’s already possible to purchase dark chocolate made with high-end olive oil. Famous US chef Thomas Keller makes chocolate called K&M Extravirgin Chocolate that’s produced with olive oil instead of cocoa butter.
The K&M site says that the chef worked for five years with other experts to make a chocolate that had the significant health benefits of olive oil. A box of eight bars of the Madagascar flavour – which promises to be “sweet, tart and with a slight tinge of bitterness – costs US$89.95.
In a review, the New York Times does note that the olive oil doesn’t change the taste of the chocolate. The NYT reviewer describes the Madagascar bar as “spicy with notes of pineapple and passionfruit” instead.
This article originally appeared on Starts at 60.