Those with a sweet tooth will be happy to know that in moderation, dark chocolate is good for cardiovascular health, according to a study collaborative study between Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra and the University of Gothenburg that was published in the journal Nutrition.
30 healthy participants between the ages of 18-27 were divided into 2 groups: one group eating 20g of chocolate containing 55% cocoa content, and the other eating 20g of chocolate with 90% cocoa content. Participant blood pressure was taken at baseline, then again after 30 days.
Eating chocolate was found to improve blood pressure, but those in the 90% group had more dramatic results; those in the 90% group after one month showed an average reduction of 3.5 mmHg in systolic and 2.3 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure, while those in the 55% group had an average reduction of 2.4 mmHg in systolic and 1.7 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure.
Based on their findings the team concluded that eating small amounts of dark chocolate can be of benefit to the cardiovascular system regardless of age, but they noted while the findings provide a positive correlation between dark chocolate and cardiovascular biomarkers how they affect other factors of a healthy lifestyle requires further research.
“The extent to which cocoa may interact with other healthy lifestyle strategies remains to be explored, and further research is needed to clarify the underlying mechanisms and to define optimal amounts of regular cocoa-rich dark chocolate intake,” says lead author Dr. Telmo Pereira.
A study published in Heart investigating the health benefits of chocolate involving 21,000 participants taking note of eating habits also observed cumulative evidence between chocolate intake and the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Flavanols found within dark chocolate may be responsible for a lot of these health benefits as multiple studies have shown direct links between eating flavonoid rich foods and human health. Many foods contain flavonoids which have been explored for antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antitumor properties.
Choose your chocolate with scrutiny as not as types of chocolate have flavanols, which are also what gives chocolate the slightly bitter taste. Many commercially available chocolates have been stripped of the beneficial flavanols in favor of more mellow taste.
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