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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Is chocolate actually good for your heart ?

Is chocolate actually good for your heart ?

A daily serving of dark chocolate may keep the doctor away!

The medicinal use of cocoa or chocolate originated among the indigenous Mesoamerican people. Medical texts dating back to the 16th century indicate chocolate was used to treat a host of diferent conditions.

Chocolate comes from cocoa beans, which, along with other foods such as green tea, red wine, and berries, are high in flavanols (a type of polyphenol). Flavanols are thought to be responsible for many of the heart health benefits ascribed to chocolate.

Many human studies have found these abundant plant compounds to have a marked influence on cholesterol levels and blood pressure, as well as heart attack and stroke risk. These studies also reveal chocolate has excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Additionally, a 2011 study found that consuming chocolate two or more times per week was associated with a decrease in the prevalence of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

So, how much chocolate do you have to eat to see benefits? A small, randomized control trial published in 2007 found beneficial efects from a modest dose of chocolate each day. In this study, only 6.3 g of chocolate per day were needed to produce a reduction in blood pressure. Other researchers have chosen to study larger quantities of chocolate (50 g) and found beneficial efects on cholesterol

It’s important to keep in mind that the darker the chocolate, the richer it is in heart-healthy compounds, so make sure to choose 70 percent dark chocolate or higher, and avoid white chocolate, which lacks these benefits.

So, a little sinful indulgence may be just what the doctor would order.

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