Substituting dark chocolate for any other kind of chocolate is a simple way to make a dessert or snack suddenly heart-friendly. Dark chocolate, making waves in the past two years in nutrition circles, packs an exceptional nutrient punch in a very small dose. Here’s a quick look at what’s inside this “functional” food:
- Antioxidants: Maybe more than any other food. Help ward off disease.
- Flavonoids: Natural plant chemicals protect you from chronic disease, especially of the heart.
- Cocoa phenols: Lower your blood pressure.
- Fatty acids: Stearic and oleic acids can neutralize and lower cholesterol.
- Phytochemicals: A flurry of natural chemicals constantly being studied for their health benefits.
- Fiber: High content means you absorb all its nutrients well.
- Epicatechin: Antioxidant that protects LDL cholesterol from being dangerously “oxidized”.
- Essential minerals: High levels of copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and manganese.
Number four on that list may be responsible for an interesting ability discovered recently by researchers. A
study has proved that dark chocolate could lower blood pressure — a notion that hasn’t been well proven yet. They addressed it in a small study of 44 adults between 56 and 73 years of age.
Each person had high blood pressure or was just on the cusp of having it (hypertension and prehypertension).
Researchers compared dark chocolate to white chocolate, which doesn’t contain the ingredient cocoa. In the end, people in the dark chocolate group lowered systolic blood pressure by about three points and diastolic by about two. The white chocolate group had no change at all.
All in all, dark chocolate protects your heart by working against a host of risk factors: high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and hardened arteries. It is proven to have an incredibly high amount of antioxidants in it. Researchers have proven beyond a doubt that, by adding a modest piece of dark chocolate to your diet each day, you are obtaining added protection for your heart. It’s still high in calories, so only have a small piece a day, preferably no bigger than your finger.