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Indulge In A Moderate Amount Of Chocolate For Heart-Healthy Benefits

Many people have heard at least some brief information about chocolate being a healthy food, but they may wonder if that’s just wishful thinking and whether any research actually supports this idea. If you’re a chocolate lover, take heart — a certain amount of chocolate does appear to be beneficial for the cardiovascular system.

Why Chocolate Is Healthy

Plant-based nutrients known as flavonoids are responsible for many healthy benefits in the diet. There are numerous types of flavonoids, some of which are flavanols.  

But is chocolate a plant? Well, consider that cocoa comes from the cocoa bean, which is actually a seed from a tree. Cocoa is the main component of chocolate. Flavanols in cocoa are responsible for chocolate’s heart-healthy advantages.

The beneficial effects of cocoa flavanols include the following:

  • antioxidant action that eliminates free radicals associated with cell damage and the development of plaque in arteries
  • enhanced nitric oxide production in the body, which relaxes and widens blood vessels for improved circulation
  • reduced stickiness of platelet blood cells, which prevents blood clots
  • reduced insulin resistance for better blood sugar regulation
  • reduced inflammation in the body
  • improved blood vessel function
  • reduced blood pressure

Relevant Research

Several studies have focused on the positive effects of cocoa on cardiovascular health. An article published in Nutrition Reviews in 2006 noted several of the confirmed benefits of cocoa in the diet.

A review of studies that was published in 2008 found that people who ate flavanol-rich dark chocolate every day experienced significant reductions in blood pressure. The results of the review indicate that consuming cocoa regularly could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to the authors.  

Adding Chocolate to the Diet

Dark chocolate has the greatest abundance of the beneficial flavanols, so focus on that particular substance as much as you can.

Avoid chocolate that is characterized by excessive additives, such as a large amount of sugar. The less processed that chocolate is, the more flavanols it contains. That means the cheap commercial chocolate candy you find on grocery store racks isn’t as good as chocolate from food producers that list the percentage of cocoa on the label. If you see a percentage of cacao listed, that definitely counts — it’s simply the unroasted form of cocoa.

You also can increase these flavanols in your diet by putting cocoa in milk, yogurt, ice cream or hot cereal.

Indulge in a reasonable amount of high-quality chocolate every day if you want to; just don’t go overboard and eat so much that it affects your daily calorie intake. You’ll reap the benefits of heart-healthy cocoa and enjoy eating the tasty substance as well. For more information chocolate, contact a store such as Abdallah Candies And Gifts.