12:33pm Sunday 29 March 2020

Chocolate lovers recruited to prevent heart disease

If you are aged between 40-65 years, have high blood pressure and no history of diabetes, then the research team would like to hear from you.

The aim of the study is to find out if a high fruit and vegetable diet incorporating dark chocolate and berries – which are all rich in compounds called polyphenols – can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

As part of the three-year study, one group of patients will be placed on a diet low in fruit and vegetables. Another group will be encouraged to eat a high polyphenol diet of six portions of fruit and vegetables, including one portion of berries, each day, together with 50g of dark chocolate. People’s blood vessel health and the stickiness of their blood will be measured at the start and end of the study to discover whether a diet rich in polyphenols can reduce the risk of developing heart disease.

Professor Pascal McKeown of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust and Queen’s University Belfast said: “This study will provide important information on the link between fruit and vegetable intake and health. The findings will then be used by health professionals to formulate messages about diet and lifestyle practices.”

The research is funded by Northern Ireland Chest, Heart & Stroke and the Northern Ireland Research and Development Office, Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety through a fellowship awarded to Dr Rebecca Noad.

Andrew Dougal, Chief Executive of Northern Ireland Chest, Heart & Stroke said: “This is a great example of high quality research which has the potential to benefit first and foremost the people of Northern Ireland, but also has applications further afield. We hope it will provide a solid evidence base for fine-tuning the government’s advice on healthy eating.”

All participants will receive £120 plus reasonable travel expenses reimbursed, and those assigned to the high polyphenol group will have their fruit and vegetables and dark chocolate delivered to their home, free of charge.

If you are interested in taking part in the study, please contact Dr Rebecca Noad on 02890 633 108 or 07896 977 295.

For media inquiries please contact the Communications Office on 028 9097 3087/3091 or [email protected]

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