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Is Chocolate Good For Your Heart?

Mar 7, 2008
Most of us love chocolate but did you know that chocolate is actually good for you? New evidence suggests that eating a little chocolate might help ward off artery-blocking, heart attack provoking blood clots. Truth is, there are healthy and unhealthy chocolates and it is important to select those that are heart healthy.

During a recent US survey, researchers discovered that clots formed more slowly in the blood of chocolate lovers than in those who rarely ate chocolate. Some chocolates however are full of sugar and fat. These include chocolate covered marshmallow hearts, chocolate covered cherries and solid milk chocolate hearts and drops. Some commercial chocolate is made with high-fructose corn syrup and this should be avoided if you are health conscious.

The secret is to eat dark chocolate containing a high percentage of cocao bean. The center of the cocao bean is the nib and cocao beans contain chemicals called flavonoids. These are believed to have similar blood thinning effects to
aspirin. Dark chocolate, which is lower in sugar and fat than milk chocolate is the healthy way to enjoy that special treat and as an extra bonus, protect your heart.

Research conducted at Tufts University led to a discovery that dark chocolate improves insulin sensitivity. This is great news for those with type 2 diabetes because millions of people take expensive drugs on a daily basis to increase their insulin sensitivity. Besides boosting insulin sensitivity, there is evidence from research that pure dark chocolate may lower blood pressure, improve blood vessel function and reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol.

According to Dr Janet Bond Brill, author of "Cholesterol Down", "Dark chocolate is the best nutrition news to come out in years".

Dr Joe Vinson, professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton, explains: "Flavonoids work as antioxidants to protect us from free radical damage and cocoa consumption lowers your risk of heart disease".

As you grow older, your arteries become less and less flexible, making it hard for blood to flow through them. This raises your blood pressure. The flavonoids in dark chocolate boost levels of nitric acid, keeping your arteries flexible and allowing blood to flow to your vital organs more easily.

A 2003 study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, supports this. According to their research, chocolate helped promote healthy blood pressure levels in the subjects studied. Chocolate helps relax blood vessels so blood can flow through them easier.

Like all good things, moderation is the key and premium dark chocolate is the only chocolate that provides the many health benefits. It contains a higher percentage of cocoa than milk chocolate. Avoid the mass produced, highly processed sugary chocolates. "Chocolate is a yummy form of medicine", explains Brill. "But as with any medicine, overdosing can lead to unpleasant side effects".

I love chocolate, but had to severely restrict my consumption of milk chocolate because of congestion problems. Dark chocolate reduces this problem and provides greater health benefits while retaining the delicious chocolate taste. My wife and I enjoy a healthy peppermint tea after our evening meal. Two or three pieces of dark chocolate complement it perfectly.
About the Author
Discover more about protecting yourself from heart disease in health researcher Graeme Lanham's new Ebook "Heart Disease Solutions". It outlines in easy to read style all you need to know about protecting your heart.
Visit: http://www.heartdiseasesolutions.com
Free newsletter and Instant download.
Special Introductory offer: Just $9.97.
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