Heart Benefits Of Eating Dark Chocolate
Written by: Brandi Monasco
For a long time now, dark chocolate has been known for its fattening nature. However, this bad reputation has undergone a few changes and dark chocolate now has a positive reputation.
Studies have found that dark chocolate (cacao) has high benefits on heart health. In fact, it is said that eating a piece of chocolate each day could be doing your heart a favor.
Dark chocolate plays a key role in stabilizing blood pressure, improving insulin sensitivity, maintaining a healthy artery function and helping in blood clotting.
The main ingredient in cacao that causes these benefits are flavonoids. Flavonoids are antioxidants that occur naturally and are mainly found in certain foods, vegetables and red wine.
Studies suggest that flavonoids found in dark chocolate are good for heart health and showed that eating at least 1.5 ounces of cacao every day reduced levels of a protein that causes white blood cells to stick to the walls of arteries. These molecules cause inflammation that is linked to heart disease. They cause obstruction in the arteries and can lead to arteries rupturing, causing a heart attack or stroke. Eating dark chocolate can help reduce your risk of this serious condition.
Studies have also shown that eating dark chocolate daily can lower your LDL (low-density lipoproteins, the “bad” cholesterol). When your LDL levels are lowered, this helps prevent heart disease. In a 2012 study, an associate professor of exercise and nutritional services at San Diego State University concluded:
“Compared to people who ate white chocolate, those who ate dark lowered their bad cholesterol by about 20%.”
Dark chocolate eaten once per day can also reduce blood pressure. One study, with about 14,310 participants, found that eating dark chocolate reduced their blood pressure levels naturally. Eating chocolate reduces cholesterol; high cholesterol levels are associated with serious heart disorders such as heart attack and stroke. Eating dark chocolate is proved to improve insulin resistance, which is also good for heart health.
Individuals who eat cacao each day for at least four days a week showed that eating dark chocolate can actually help improve the function of your blood vessels. Eleven people were given 1.6 grams of dark chocolate each day for two weeks. After the end of the study, ultrasounds were used to measure the blood vessels and it showed that the vessels were dilated, making it easier for blood to pass through.
Having more dark chocolate than the recommended amount also has been known to reduce your risk of getting cardiometabolic disorders. Cardiometabolic disorders are basically risk factors that can lead to diabetes and heart illnesses.
Remember that the more pure the chocolate, the better it is for you. Make sure that the sugar percentage is low and remember to check the ingredients and make sure sugar is not listed first. You will want to choose a dark chocolate with the spelling cacao. This is the dark chocolate that you will get the health benefits from. It is also important to remember that the higher percentage of cacao is, the better the health benefits.
Need some fun ways to enjoy dark chocolate? Give some of these a try:
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Brandi Monasco is a freelance writer, graphic designer and social media manager from Texas. She graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Arts and has recently found a new love for health and nutrition.
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