Some great news this week for those of us with a sweet tooth, an article in CNN.com reported that eating as little as a quarter of an ounce of chocolate each day may lower your risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke, according to a study done by Brian Buijsse, a nutritional epidemiologist at the German Institute of Human Nutrition, in Nuthetal, Germany.
The study followed nearly 20,000 people for an average of eight years, and surveyed the study participants about their chocolate consumption, and also tracked the heart attacks and strokes that occurred in the group. The results found that compared with people who rarely ate chocolate (about one bar per month), the people who ate the most chocolate (slightly more than one bar per week) had a 27 percent and 48 percent reduced risk of heart attack and stroke, respectively.
The study did emphasize that dark chocolate consumption provides the best results and that the diet of the study participants was also closely monitored. Medical experts believe that natural compounds known as flavonoids (or flavonols), which appear to promote artery health and reduce inflammation, are responsible for the cardiovascular benefits that have been associated with chocolate consumption, especially chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa with limited added sugar. In addition to lower blood pressure, cocoa consumption has been linked to improved blood vessel function, lower LDL (or bad cholesterol), and higher HDL (good cholesterol) in recent years.
Imagine my joy when my wife forwarded the email with this story to me this week as chocolate, especially the dark kind, is a personal favorite. This, however, in no way should encourage people (especially those with heart disease) to start gobbling chocolate by the bars. Moderation is key in everything, and continuing to observe a heart healthy diet and daily exercise routine is still a must for those suffering from high cholesterol and blood pressure.
With the nice spring weather settling in to the Washington area, in next week's entry I am going to touch on some heart healthy ways to get out and enjoy this wonderful weather. Stay tuned!
Published On: April 06, 2010