Chocolate has health benefits, in small quantities and if it’s dark chocolate. New research appearing in the European Heart Journal indicates that one small square of chocolate daily can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Researchers in Germany surveyed over 19,000 people and found that those who ate the most amount of chocolate had lower blood pressure and a 39 percent lower risk of having a heart attack or stroke compared to those who consumed less chocolate.
“Small amounts of chocolate may help to prevent heart disease, but only if it replaces other energy-dense food, such as snacks, in order to keep body weight stable,” says Brian Buijsse, M.D., a nutritional epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition.
Flavonols in cocoa may be the ingredient in chocolate which produces the beneficial effect on blood pressure and heart health. Because there is a greater amount of cocoa in dark chocolate, dark chocolate may have an increased health benefit.
Health benefits of chocolate
• Lowers blood pressure.
• Increases endorphin production which improves mood.
• The serotonin content in chocolate regulates sleep and acts as an anti-depressant.
• Reduces LDL cholesterol, or bad cholesterol.
Flavonols may improve heart health by increasing the availability of nitric oxide from cells that line the blood vessel walls. Nitric oxide causes the muscle cells of the blood vessels to relax and widen, which can contribute to lower blood pressure.
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