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The Rollin' RN's

Dark Chocolate – A “Heart Healthy” Treat

Finally, some good information when it comes to tasty delights. And it couldn’t come at a better time with Valentine’s Day just around the corner because who doesn’t enjoy receiving a box of chocolates from their favorite person? That said, studies show that dark chocolate, when not loaded with sugar and saturated fat, is indeed a heart-healthy chocolate treat and more.

“Eating chocolate is healthy when it is dark chocolate,” says Poulina Uddin, MD, “Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate regularly can benefit your health but moderation is key. Dark chocolate, like other chocolates, is still high in calories and can lead to weight gain. But in small amounts, it can fit into a well-balanced diet.” Hmmm…chocolate that fits into a well-balanced diet? Sounds too good to be true. Let’s do a bit of investigation.

Dark chocolate is rich in disease-fighting antioxidants and studies have shown dark chocolate can help reduce blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease.

What is an antioxidant? Antioxidants are commonly found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds — including cocoa beans from which chocolate is processed. They help fight inflammation and protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are the natural byproducts of chemical processes, such as metabolism. Most dark chocolate is high in flavonoids which is a subtype of antioxidants and is associated with lowering your risk of heart disease.

Reducing the risk of heart disease. Researchers have found evidence that dark chocolate can help reduce the risk of heart disease by:

• making platelets in the blood less sticky and able to create clots, which can otherwise cause a heart attack or stroke.

• processing nitric oxide, which helps improve blood flow throughout the body, including the brain.

• lowering the risk of insulin resistance, which reduces the risk of diabetes.

• controlling chronic inflammation, which can lead to heart disease.

A few reminders though:

• Milk chocolate does not have the same benefits and it is twice the sugar

• White chocolate has no benefits

• The darker the chocolate, the better

• At least 70 percent cocoa to obtain the most flavonoids.

• Try taking a small piece and letting it melt slowly in your mouth.

• Just a bite or so a day is all you need to reap the cardiovascular benefits.

• Overindulging doesn’t do your heart any favors.

So, go ahead, feel free to enjoy some guilt-free dark chocolate with your Valentine sweetie.

It’s all good, so keep on rollin,’ and have a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

Patty, BSN, RNC and Roberta, RN

The Rollin’ RNs ™


Are There Health Benefits from Chocolate?


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