Dark chocolate reduces endothelial dysfunction after successive breath-hold dives in cool water

S Theunissen, J. Schumacker, F. Guerrero, F. Tillmans, A. Boutros, K. Lambrechts, A. Mazur, M. Pieri, P. Germonpre, Costantino Balestra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Objective The aim of this study is to observe the effects of dark chocolate on endothelial function after a series of successive apnea dives in non-thermoneutral water. Methods Twenty breath-hold divers were divided into two groups: a control group (8 males and 2 females) and a chocolate group (9 males and 1 female). The control group was asked to perform a series of dives to 20 m adding up to 20 min in the quiet diving pool of Conflans-Ste-Honorine (Paris, France), water temperature was 27 °C. The chocolate group performed the dives 1 h after ingestion of 30 g of dark chocolate. Flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), digital photoplethysmography, nitric oxide (NO), and peroxynitrite ONOO−) levels were measured before and after each series of breath-hold dives. Results A significant decrease in FMD was observed in the control group after the dives (95.28 ± 2.9 % of pre-dive values, p < 0.001) while it was increased in the chocolate group (104.1 ± 2.9 % of pre-dive values, p < 0.01). A decrease in the NO level was observed in the control group (86.76 ± 15.57 %, p < 0.05) whereas no difference was shown in the chocolate group (98.44 ± 31.86 %, p > 0.05). No differences in digital photoplethysmography and peroxynitrites were observed between before and after the dives. Conclusion Antioxidants contained in dark chocolate scavenge free radicals produced during breath-hold diving. Ingestion of 30 g of dark chocolate 1 h before the dive can thus prevent endothelial dysfunction which can be observed after a series of breath-hold dives.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2967-2975
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • breath-hold dives
  • cool water


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