Thursday, June 7, 2012

Chocolate...finally what you want to hear! can't be....can it?

WELL.....I just read a very intriguing article from the BMJ (British Medical Journal) that discusses the cardiovascular BENEFITS of chocolate...dark chocolate. The article studied patients with metabolic syndrome (see here) who had NO cardiovascular disease prior to entering the study. The study was very complex from a mathematical standpoint, and basically predicted future cardiovascular risk from the participants depending on what happened throughout the study (if blood pressure or cholesterol increased, etc..). The study results predicted that those patients who ingested (or savored??) dark chocolate daily had lower blood pressure and cholesterol than those who did not ENJOY (haha) the dark chocolate daily.

This, of course, prompted me to do a little more searching. I am looking for the ideal amount for a person to consume daily. It looks like...well, there isn't one. I would think 1/3 of a bar of a dark chocolate bar that is AT LEAST 70-80% cocoa would be good to, see below to see WHY this may be good for you!

Dark chocolate (again, 70-80% cocoa) has flavonoids, which is the "antioxidant" or "repair"part of the chocolate. Flavonoids have antihypertensive (lower blood pressure), anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic (lowers blood clots), and metabolic effects all of which contribute to their protective effects. People enrolled in the study did prove to have lower blood pressure (by about 3.2 points) and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol by about 6 points than those who did not have the chocolate. Granted, these decreases in numbers were not a very large amount, they were there clinically, and we have to assume that overtime it may help even more.

So what is my recommendation? Well, if you are already eating 150 calories of junk food a day that you can replace with dark chocolate, then do it. I recommend 2 kinds. I find that the Dove miniatures are the easiest, and I would eat 2 one day, and 3 the next, alternating. Even better is the Lindt 85% Cocoa bar, and I would have 3 of the squares of the bar of this (its one of those breakable bars). Remember, a little dark chocolate is good, but more is not better. Chocolate, no matter how you look at it is still loaded with calories. Heart heath is a delicate balance of diet and exercise (and will power!)...don't use dark chocolate as a "healthy" excuse, but rather, a "heathy alternative" to  less heart-conscious options!

Until next time...

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