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Does Chocolate Protect Your Heart?

By Expert HERWriter
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I am a self-professed choc-a-holic. Give me a bar of good quality dark chocolate and I am a happy woman. Many of my patients ask me if dark chocolate is better than milk or white chocolate and I decided to do a little research

Turns out it is!

In 2006, the Journal of Internal Medicine had a study where men ate 2.25 grams per day of dark chocolate and had slightly lower blood pressure. They also found these men were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than men who ate lower amounts or none at all.

In 2008, the Journal of Nutrition published a study that showed dark chocolate can significantly reduce inflammation that leads to heart disease. Researchers found that eating 6.7 grams (0.23 grams) per day kept C-reactive protein levels in check. They did not find the same results with milk chocolate.

Dark chocolate contains high amounts of flavonoids which are antioxidants like those found in the skins of berries. More specifically, researchers looked at catechins and epicatechins which are also found in grapes and green tea. It is believed that these components lower plaque build-up in the arteries and help improve the cells that line your blood vessels.

While doing a little more snooping, it appears that the Food and Drug Administration has very strict guidelines for ‘milk’ and ‘white’ chocolate but not for ‘dark’ chocolate.

A quick peek at Wikipedia (who doesn’t love a wiki search?) shows that ‘dark” chocolate is made by mixing fat and sugar to cocao. One must NOT use any milk products as an additive and ‘dark’ does not have nearly as much sugar as the other types. Also, semisweet and bittersweet evidently do not count towards your daily quota of cardiovascular prevention however one can find them in 60% and 65% cocao content so it’s debatable.

The question becomes … do I allow patients to have a tiny bit of chocolate everyday? I vote ‘yes’ as long as it’s strictly a tiny amount and it’s a high percentage dark chocolate.

1) http://healthhubs.net/heartdisease/cocoa-lowers-blood-pressure-improves-cardiovascular-health/

Add a Comment4 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

I just read another study which showed dark chocolate is also good for you skin, there was lots of science stuff in the report but the conclusion was that a small piece of good quality dark chocolate is good for you.

As a self confessed chocoholic I'm really not going to argue. I have a chocolate blog called www.cocoamoi.com I have to admit not all the chocolate recipes I have on my blog would fit the healthy catagory but as an ocasional treat they are rather tasty, lol

July 20, 2011 - 4:50am
EmpowHER Guest

It is nice to know there is scientific evidence of the benefits of dark chocolate. The benefits actually are best obtained in the pure form of unprocessed cacao - which is what is used in the clinical trials. I have found a heart healthy, unprocessed chocolate that is high in antioxidants, is diabetic friendly (contains no processed sugars), has no waxes, fillers, bad fats, preservatives nor caffeine - and is the best tasting Belgium chocolate you have ever tasted. You can find all seven delicious varieties at: www.cocoa101.com.

January 24, 2010 - 11:33am
EmpowHER Guest

Hi anonymous, thank you for sharing the 'sweet' information (no pun intended).

January 24, 2010 - 10:06am
EmpowHER Guest

And here are four steps to maximize the health benefits of dark chocolate:
1) The Darker the Chocolate, the Better. Dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa solids, containing the health benefits, than milk or white chocolate. Most dark chocolate products have the cocoa percentage labeled.
2) Eat Moderate Portions. Chocolate is a high-calorie food. Over indulge, and the health benefits of dark chocolate can be quickly outweighed by the problems of weight gain.
3) Avoid the High Calorie Extras. The health benefits of dark chocolate come from the antioxidants in the cocoa solids. All of the other ingredients, like sugar, and any extras, like nougat, caramel, marshmallow, etc., just add calories.
4) Do Not Consume With Milk. For some reason, not yet scientifically understood, the health benefits of dark chocolate are basically negated if the dark chocolate is consumed with milk.

Dean writes about dark chocolate at his web site:

January 23, 2010 - 10:51pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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