"Who says that health foods have to taste bad?" That's the question that inspired Italian cardiologist Dr. Valerio Sanguigni to create a tasty ice-cream with proven health benefits, including improved sport performance in youth.
It's a known medical fact that can help improve heart health and prevent certain diseases, with some studies even linking them to living a longer life. Staples of Italian cuisine, like olive oil, tomatoes and red wine have been credited for contributing to the longevity of the Italian population, whose number of centenarians has tripled in less than 15 years.
But despite their documented benefits, Dr. Sanguini believed that many antioxidant-rich health foods lost a considerable share of their properties before reaching people's tables. He decided to solve this problem using ice-cream.
Research has shown that antioxidants are best preserved as very low temperatures, so while his idea of a healthy ice-cream may seem a bit strange to most people, it actually makes a lot of sense. By mixing natural ingredients rich in anti-oxidants, like unsweetened cocoa powder, hazelnuts and green tea, in a secret recipe of Rome frozen gelato, Sanguini set out to create one of the worlds unlikeliest super-foods.
To prove his theory, the Italian cardiologist tested three types of antioxidant ice-cream (chocolate, hazelnut and green tea) on his students at the University of Rome Tor Vergata. He gave some of them samples of his special ice-cream, while others received regular gelato, and asked them to pedal as fast as they could on an exercise bike. Students who had eaten the rich antioxidant ice-cream did a lot better than the other subjects.
Subsequent testing also revealed that participants who had consumed Dr. Sanguini's patented ice-cream displayed considerable improvement in vascular function, while those who had eaten the regular gelato, did not. This ruled out the possibility of a placebo effect.
"To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that a natural ice cream rich in polyphenols acutely improved vascular function and physical performance in healthy individuals through a reduction in oxidative stress," Dr. Valerio Sanguigni said.
The results of this study were published in the scientific journal Nutrition.