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They have the potential to support blood vessel health, lowering blood pressure, improving circulation to the heart and brain and improving platelets ability to correctly clot. Examples of flavanoids are dark chocolate, cranberries, peanuts, onions, red wine, blackberries, green tea and red apples.
The University of Cambridge found that there was an overall benefit of 37 percent reduction in heart disease in those participants with the highest chocolate consumption. There was also a 29 percent benefit for stroke patients as well.
The research also stated that the benefits have to be tempered with the high sugar and fat that is also found in certain types of chocolate.
Fat in chocolate is derived from cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is made up of equal parts of oleic, stearic and palmitic acids.
Oleic acid is actually a healthy monounsaturated fat. Stearic acid is a saturated fat, yet research shows it has a neutral effect on cholesterol levels so it doesn’t raise or lower it. Palmitic acid also doesn’t seem to have an effect on cholesterol levels.
Valentine’s day is a holiday of sorts so if you want to eat chocolate, enjoy it. If you decide that you can’t live without chocolate more often than once a year, just remember that high quality dark chocolate that has been minimally processed is your best bet.
If you are working on improving your heart health then eat foods high in antioxidants and flavanoids. This means fruits and vegetables daily, not chocolate.
But this Valentine's Day, feel free to enjoy your holiday!
Dr. Dae is a Naturopathic Physician who practices in the Washington DC metro area treats the whole person using safe and effective combinations of traditional and natural methods to produce optimal health and well-being in the lives of her patients.
" Cleveland Clinic." Cleveland Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2012. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/nutrition/chocolate.aspx.
Hirschler, Ben. " Is chocolate good for your heart? It depends| Reuters.