Finally, you have a really good excuse to eat more chocolate! Chocolate has protective cardio- vascular properties. A recent European study examined the incidence of heart attacks and strokes and overall blood pressure in people ages 35-65. Those that consumed ~ 7 grams of chocolate (equivalent to 1 square of a chocolate bar) per day had lower blood pressure, and a reduced risk of stroke and heart attack. Although most study subjects consumed milk chocolate, no clear difference in the overall benefit could be found between dark, milk or even white chocolate. Cocoa is rich in a substance, called flavanoids, which is the major antioxidant also found in tea as well as fruits and vegetables, and may bring about a lot of the health properties of these foods.
Beware the often high caloric content of chocolate-containing foods. A dark chocolate bar is packed withand saturated fat. So while you might decrease your chance of having a stroke with chocolate, you may very well offset the benefit by increasing fat intake and weight gain, both risk factors for heart disease, if you consume too much.
- Take it light: Small amounts (7grams or one small chocolate square) of milk or dark chocolate decrease cardiovascular disease risk.
- There’s no magic bullet: Chocolate consumption is not a substitute for exercise, healthy dieting, portion control and medications where appropriate, as a means to prevent heart disease.
- Balance is key: If you have a condition that can be affected or worsened by chocolate, like diabetes, ask your doctor if chocolate is a safe food.
As always, ask your doctor for advice. If you are allergic to chocolate, avoid it completely.
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