Chocolate makes everything better, right? From helping your child recover from a fall to mending your teenager’s broken heart, chocolate is known to work wonders by boosting your mood. Well, studies now show that along with helping you feel better, chocolate, especially the darker varieties, might be good for your heart too.
Dark chocolate contains little to no dairy and higher levels of cocoa solids and cocoa butter when compared to other varieties. Various studies have shown that this kind of chocolate is healthier than milk or white chocolates, which tend to have more sugar and dairy content.
Studies have also shown that the components in dark chocolate make it good for overall health too when eaten in moderation, of course. Dark chocolate has the highest concentration of cocoa solids, which contain flavonoids. Flavonoids are linked to improving blood pressure levels and cholesterol, reducing the risk of diabetes, and even supporting cognition.
Dark chocolate is also rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and other beneficial minerals. The higher the percentage of cacao, the higher the concentration of flavonoids. So use chocolate with at least 60% cacao for optimum benefits and if you can handle the bitterness go for 70% or 80% cacao.
Dark Chocolate and Heart Health
Over the years, many studies have been conducted regarding the benefits of dark chocolate, specifically for heart health. A study conducted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Denmark has found that apart from being good for overall heart health, it can also help with a specific condition called atrial fibrillation or heart arrhythmia. Atrial fibrillation is a common occurrence and is known to affect at least 33 million people every year.
In this study, the researchers focused mainly on the benefits of dark chocolate because it has been previously linked to benefitting cardiovascular health, especially in lowering the case of heart attacks and heart failures.
Out of the 55,502 individuals who were part of the study, 26,400 were men and 29,100 women, all ranging from 50 to 64 years of age. While each person had different risks leading to the development of heart diseases, the rate of new diagnosis of heart arrhythmia was lower by 10% in individuals who were given 1–3 servings of dark chocolate in a month. This was in comparison to those who had less than one serving a month.
The study shows that the occurrence of atrial fibrillation reduced with different percentages of chocolate intake too: 17% with one serving a week, 20% for 2–6 servings a week, and 14% for one or more servings every day. Based on all the results, it was concluded that women benefitted with one weekly serving of dark chocolate, while men needed 2–6 servings for optimal benefits.
Other Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Other than its cardiovascular benefits, dark chocolate is also known to help prevent type 2 diabetes and increase longevity. It may also help with lowering Body Mass index (BMI) numbers to reach a healthy weight. Rich in antioxidants, dark chocolate also has the ability to fight free radicals and reduce the risk of certain cancers.
The next time you find yourself craving dessert, indulge in a piece of dark chocolate that can calm your senses and boost cardiovascular health.
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Borreli, L. (2017, May 23). Eating This Much Dark Chocolate Per Week Protects Your Heart. Retrieved from https://www.medicaldaily.com/atrial-fibrillation-treatment-eating-dark-chocolate-lowers-irregular-heartbeat-417829
Chocolate Linked to Decreased Risk of Irregular Heart Rhythm. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/chocolate-linked-to-decreased-risk-of-irregular-heart-rhythm/
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