The Health Advantages of Dark Chocolate

By Debra Rodzinak

I have a confession.  I am a chocoholic.  If chocolate were suddenly to become illegal, I would end up in maximum security solitary confinement.  The good news is that chocolate is good for you … more specifically, dark chocolate is very good you.

Studies have shown that people who eat dark chocolate actually have better circulation, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and fewer instances of stroke.  Eating dark chocolate in moderation daily is a useful strategy to decrease the rate of heart disease.  As an overall part of a healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, adequate sleep, stress reduction methods, and keeping a healthy weight, adding dark chocolate to the mix is nothing but beneficial.

Heart Disease Prevention

Cacao is the bean that chocolate is made from and published studies have shown the link between chocolate in a person’s diet and good heart health.  For those who suffer from headaches, eat chocolate with caution.  In some people, chocolate has been known to trigger migraines.

Heart and Blood Vessels

Cacao seeds are rich in antioxidants, flavonols, and theobromine.  All of these have a positive effect on the heart cells and blood vessels of the body.  Make sure that the dark chocolate consumed has at least 70 to 80 percent cacao.  The calories are lower and white and milk chocolate often have added sugars and other ingredients that have no heart health benefits.

Circulation

Peripheral artery disease (PAD) is a disease that causes painful cramps due to the decreased blood flow in the arms and legs.  Patients who eat dark chocolate and suffer from PAD have found that they are able to walk farther and exercise longer.

Blood Pressure

For older adults who have seen their blood pressure creep up over the years, dark chocolate has been linked to lowering blood pressure.  For people who ate 6 grams of dark chocolate daily, after an 18-week period, their blood pressure decreased.  

Stroke

A Finnish study published in Neurology of 2012 showed that patients who suffer with atrial fibrillation (afib) were five times more likely to suffer a stroke.  The afib patients who consumed 2 ounces of dark chocolate every week had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke than those who didn’t.

Cholesterol

Hypertension reported on a trial that showed people who ate 3 1/2 ounces of dark chocolate daily for two weeks had LDL cholesterol levels 12 percent lower than their counterparts.  In addition, HDL cholesterol, the “good” cholesterol, was shown to increase.

Stress on the Heart

Stress is a very real risk for heart disease.  Eating dark chocolate has been found to reduce the overall feeling of stress.  It is thought that the enjoyment of eating chocolate lowers the stress hormones in the blood.

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

 

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