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.