Some good news for chocolate lovers. Recent studies show that dark chocolate may help protect the heart and prevent heart attacks.
A study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ, 2012; 344) concludes that daily intake of dark chocolate can reduce heart attacks and strokes. Dark chocolate is especially beneficial for persons with risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The authors clarify that the heart-protection effects are only for dark chocolate, and not milk chocolate or white chocolate.
What Makes It Healthy:
Dark chocolate should be made up of at least 60-70 percent cocoa. It is full of beneficial plant chemicals such as flavonoids, antioxidants, and flavanols. Eating a moderate amount, which is an ounce (around 30 grams) a day can confer health benefits.
The flavonoids in dark chocolate can also be found in many fruits and vegetables.
Possible Benefits of Dark Chocolate:
1. Helps prevent heart disease – A study from Scotland of close to five thousand subjects, showed that those who ate chocolate regularly had a lower risk for heart disease by 42 percent.
2. Helps reduce inflammation and high blood pressure –Another study from Italy showed that people who ate dark chocolate regularly had lower C-reactive protein levels in their blood compared to people who never ate dark chocolate. C-reactive protein is a marker for inflammation of the arteries, and this can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.
3. Helps fight stress – Researchers discovered that eating an ounce or more of dark chocolate a day can reduce cortisol levels. Cortisol is known as the stress hormone and cortisol may increase inflammation and blood pressure. So if a person feels stressed, it may be good advice to give her a piece of dark chocolate.
When buying chocolate, we should obviously avoid those products with added sugars like caramel and sugar frostings. There are still pros and cons to eating chocolate but for now, we believe that the evidences are in favor of dark chocolate.
In summary, you are allowed to enjoy an ounce (around 30 grams) of dark chocolate most days of the week. Happy eating.