3 ways dark chocolate helps your heart
Life is good when you get to help your heart and eat chocolate, too. It must be dark chocolate, though.
Here’s how it works.
- Flavonoids and resveratrol, natural plant chemicals in chocolate, behave as antioxidants, fighting free radicals. This prevents damage to cells that can lead to heart disease.
- Dark chocolate lowers levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of harmful inflammation in your body. This antioxidant effect also allows chocolate to improve blood vessel function and reduce high blood pressure.
- In addition, dark chocolate improves your cholesterol profile. In one study, people who ate dark chocolate enjoyed lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and higher “good” HDL cholesterol.
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Most people think of grapes when they hear resveratrol. Researchers at the Hershey Company compared levels of resveratrol in various foods and found that cocoa powder, baking chocolate, and dark chocolate are all good sources. These ranked second only to red wine and grape juice.
But never eat your chocolate with a glass of milk. Research shows drinking milk with chocolate reduces the health benefits by blocking absorption of antioxidants from the chocolate, so they can’t do your body much good. Skip the chocolate milk, and pick dark chocolate over milk chocolate.
Lastly, don’t overindulge in your favorite chocolate treat, thinking you’re helping your heart. Aim for about 7 grams of dark chocolate a day. That’s about the size of one and one-half Hershey’s Kisses. Beyond that amount, there’s no greater benefit, and the excess could add extra pounds to your waistline.
- FC&A Staff Writer