Can Chocolate Reduce Post Exercise Inflammation?

For serious exercisers who are chocolate lovers, this proposition is almost too good to be true. There is strong evidence that chocolate, because it contains a high concentration of flavonoids, has anti-inflammatory activity. Besides chocolate, flavonoids are found in berries, vegetables, tea and coffee. Two recent studies examined whether chocolate flavonoids could reduce post exercise inflammation.

In one study, subjects completed a muscle damaging exercise protocol and then consumed a chocolate beverage containing a specific concentration of flavonoids followed by a second exercise bout. Measurements of muscle damage were made 24, 48 and 72 hours after the second exercise bout. There was no difference in anti-inflammatory parameters between the placebo group and the group who consumed the chocolate flavonoids.

However, in another study designed to measure post exercise muscle damage, investigators had subjects consume a beverage high in chocolate flavonoids for two weeks before completing a 72 km cycling bout. The investigators noted that consumption of chocolate flavonoids for two weeks, significantly reduced markers of muscle damage.

The bottom line – there is still much to be learned about the effect of chocolate flavonoids on post exercise inflammation but in the meantime, serious exercisers no longer have to justify a sweet tooth but can simply claim their chocolate bar is promoting a faster recovery.