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Heart healthy chocolate perks – chocolate Easter treats

Heart healthy chocolate perks: in this post, following on from the post on bean to bar chocolate, yesterday, we explore the heart and health benefits of chocolate.

In a 9-year Swedish study of more than 31,000 women, those who ate one or two servings of dark chocolate each week cut their risk for heart failure by as much as a third. Everyday Health editor, Dr. Jennifer Brown writes that cocoa plant products and especially dark chocolate are good for the heart. While cardiologist Jared Bunch goes a step further, saying “Dark chocolate should be included in a life plan that includes exercise, eating healthy foods that are largely plant-based, getting adequate sleep, stress reduction, and maintenance of weight.”

What are Heart healthy chocolate perks?

How can chocolate be good for you? Chocolate is rich in flavenols. Flavenols may offer improvements in various contributors to cardiovascular disease, according to research. Flavenols are found in fruits, vegetables, tea and red wine but also in cocoa and cacao used to make chocolate.

What other heart healthy chocolate perks are there? Jared Bunch says cocoa consumption can help lower blood pressure. Cocoa consumption increases nitric oxide in blood vessels which prompts the vessels to dilate, reducing blood pressure. Further benefits are lower LDL cholesterol and potentially higher HDL cholesterol levels, according to research. Jared says flavenols reduce the absorption of LDL in the gastrointestinal track as well as the synthesis of LDL cholesterol, while potentially raising HDL cholesterol.

So chocolate may be good for the heart but what other benefits does it offer? Beyond heart healthy chocolate perks, chocolate can help reduce stress according to Swiss research. Beyond stress, chocolate consumption can improve brain performance: a researcher from the University of Nottingham in the UK found that drinking cocoa boosts blood flow to key parts of the brain for 2 to 3 hours, which could improve performance and alertness in the short term.

We looked at chocolate as one of ten slimming foods to eat every day, see that post to see why and what the other nine were. This post’s photo shows chocolate hearts from Lindt, the Swiss chocolatiers.

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