Article first published as Why your Heart (Hearts) Dark Chocolate on Technorati.
As a self-admitted and unrepentant chocoholic, I am always intrigued when I read about research which concerns my beloved sweet treat. Over the years, many have extolled the health benefits of dark chocolate. Another study, recently published in the British Medical Journal, also has examined the protective benefit of daily chocolate intake on heart health.
The researchers looked at 2013 adults who had metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of risk factors (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, abdominal obesity) which predisposes a person towards coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and several types of cancers. Participants in this study did not have coronary heart disease, and were not taking any medications to lower blood pressure.
The authors of this study used a mathematical model to assess the treatment effects of daily intake of dark chocolate on the development of heart disease. It was determined that daily intake of 100 grams of dark chocolate (approximately 3.5 ounces) for ten years could result in 65-85 fewer cardiac events per 10000 people.
The benefits of chocolate on the human heart are well-known. Regular intake of dark chocolate can reduce blood pressure by 2-5 points. Chocolate also increases HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol). Increases in blood flow have also been seen with daily chocolate intake, a benefit for people with congestive heart failure.
There are several caveats to this study, however. It is important to note that chocolate’s benefits are seen primarily with dark chocolate, and not the more popular milk or white varieties. The ingredients which are responsible for chocolate’s benefits, flavanoids, are seen in higher levels in dark varieties. It should be noted that daily intake of dark chocolate may be less than beneficial if the servings are high in refined sugar and fat.
Products with a higher cocoa content, such as Lindt Excellence 70% Cacao Chocolate Bar, are likely to have greater flavanoid levels than lower cocoa varieties. While these products may have a more bitter taste than your garden variety milk chocolate, their health benefits seem certain. Research is sure to continue to uncover more health benefits of chocolate in the years to come.