HEALTH CENTER

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Dark Chocolate Can Lead to a Healthy Heart by Venissa Ryther

Has chocolate been on your mind lately?  There is no harm in having chocolate thoughts, but perhaps you should ponder dark chocolate.  Why?  Dark chocolate is now known to reduce the risk of heart problems.  Research and analyzed data of a study conducted in Australia concludes that people who are at high risk of heart disease can lower their risk by eating more dark chocolate.  The aforementioned patients had high blood pressure, were not put on blood pressure medication, and had no personal or family history of heart disease or diabetes.  When offered to consume at least 100 grams of dark chocolate per day, researchers saw that 70 non-fatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular events per 10,000 people for 10 years can possibly be avoided.  That’s quite a significant statistic!

What if you don’t like dark chocolate?  Is it possible to learn to like it since it’s better for you? People may find the semi-sweet taste to be a bit bitter and the look unappealing.  It can be perceived as boring vs. decadent.  It is not usually a favorite flavor compared to its major competitors such as milk chocolate or white chocolate.

Even a small amount of dark chocolate can reduce the risk of cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke.  Also note that dark chocolate is highly rich in flavonoids.  Flavonoids are metabolites that have heart protecting properties and antioxidants.  This could be one of the reasons why chocolate is so often craved.  Most flavonoids are found in green and black teas, cherries, apples, red grapes and other deeply colored fruits and vegetables.  Consumption of these has been known to help with digestion, improve kidney, bowel, and sexual function, and to treat anemia and gout.  Let’s add dark chocolate to this list.

However, you can’t live on dark chocolate alone.  A regulated diet and exercise is necessary for any active healthy lifestyle.  Dark chocolate, just like any sweet indulgence, should have a moderate intake. This is not a green light for people to eat extreme amounts of any kind of chocolate.  Researchers have recommended a daily amount of one ounce per day, two to three times a week.  Try to keep up a schedule and to not overdo it.  It is important to note that the protective factors must be at least 60 percent COCOA for full effectiveness.  Yes, that means no sugar, no sweetener, just the purest dark chocolate that you can find.  Consider a liquid form if you really have an aversion to dark chocolate.  Baking cocoa powder stirred with skim milk can provide effective results.  Be sure to look at the label and verify that the powder is not processed with alkaline which reduces antioxidants.

The blood pressure lowering effects of dark chocolate could represent a cost-effective strategy for people with metabolic syndrome (who don’t have diabetes), and ease the out of pocket expenses on most prescriptions.  Any way you look at it (or eat it), give it a try!  Dark chocolate is a possible dietary or lifestyle modification that would be embraced by many.  Now you have a reason for that chocolate craving.  Enjoy!

The information provided is for general interest only and should not be misconstrued as a diagnosis, prognosis or treatment recommendation. This information does not in any way constitute the practice of medicine, or any other health care profession. Readers are directed to consult their health care provider regarding their specific health situation. Marque Medical is not liable for any action taken by a reader based upon this information.