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When small doses of dark chocolate were eaten in combination with regular exercise, performance was boosted by 50 per cent.
Dark chocolate contains the plant compound epicatechin, which appears to stimulate muscle growth in a similar way to vigorous activity such as jogging.
In tests on mice, U.S. researchers found the compound made them produce more mitochondria – the tiny ‘batteries’ which power the cells in our body, and increased the number of capillaries, which ferry oxygen to the muscles.
This gave them more energy and when put on the treadmill those who had just been fed epicatechin extract performed as well as those who had been training regularly.
In the study, middle-aged mice were divided into three groups. One was given a type of epicatechin from cocoa twice a day for 15 days, another had epicatechin and 30 minutes on the treadmill every day. A third group did the exercise but without taking the extract.
Dr Moh Malek, from Wayne State University in Detroit, said: ‘Aerobic exercise, such as running or cycling, is known to increase the number of mitochondria in muscle cells.
Our study has found that epicatechin seems to bring about the same response – particularly in the heart and skeletal muscles.’
They hope the same effect may apply in humans and that the ingredients in dark chocolate could be used as a basis for treatments for age-related muscle wastage, according to the study published today in the Journal of Physiology.
■ A ‘deep-fried gene’ that makes us crave fatty foods and alcohol has been discovered by Scottish scientists.
It is slightly more common among Europeans than Asians and Africans – perhaps because those in colder climes have historically resorted to comfort-eating and drinking.
The Aberdeen University research

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2037556/How-dark-chocolate-boosts-fitness-exercise.html#ixzz1Y0djouiB
 

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