Now here is a good New Year’s resolution that will be easy to stick to – eat chocolate everyday. Before you grab a hand full of candy bars while waiting in the check out line at the grocery store, you need to know that not all chocolate is beneficial for your health.
Dark chocolate is higher in cocoa than regular milk chocolate and is therefore better for your health. Eating dark chocolate along with a balanced diet and exercise can help improve your heart health. Dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 60% or higher is the most beneficial.
A study done at the University of California on the effect dark chocolate has on the heart suggests just how good dark chocolate can be. 21 healthy adults were divided into two different groups. The first group was given a dark chocolate bar everyday for two weeks. This dark chocolate, like other dark chocolate high in cocoa content, was loaded with epicatechin, which is an active member of the group of compounds called plant flavonoids. Flavonoids help protect, repair, and shield plants from environmental toxins. When we consume foods high in flavonoids, we benefit from this antioxidant power. Flavonoids are very important for heart health because they keep cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels, reduce the risk of blood clots, and slow down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries. The second group in the study got dark chocolate bars that were completely lacking flavonoids. These healthy adults were monitored and underwent some high-tech evaluation on how well the blood vessels dilated and relaxed – an indicator of healthy blood vessel function. Those who received the flavonoid-rich dark chocolate rated much better than those who did not because the tests showed that adults who ate flavonoid-rich chocolate had high levels of epicatechin flowing through their arteries. Better blood flow is better for your heart.
Here’s another fact you need to know – while a little dark chocolate can be good for your heart, a lot is not better. Dr. Oscar H. Franco, a lecturer in public health at the University of Cambridge said that “chocolate may be beneficial, but it should be eaten in a moderate way, not in large quantities and not in binges.” If consumed in large quantities, the benefits of the dark chocolate are lost. The recommended “dose” of chocolate should be about an ounce a day.