7 Heart-Healthy Perks of Dark Chocolate
There is a growing number of studies and research that shows that cacao-cased products, primarily dark chocolate, support heart health. Scientific studies have confirmed that individuals who consume dark chocolate have much more optimized cardiovascular system.
In other words, they have great blood flow, stable cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. This is the reason why many experts suggest taking chocolate as one of the way to prevent heart disease, which is by the way still the most common reason of death. According to these experts, dark chocolate must be part of every healthy diet. Of course in order to witness the best results, people should exercise on a regular basis, get rid of stress, balance weight and get enough sleep.
The following is a list of the most important benefits of eating dark chocolate for the heart.
1. Cacao is Associated With Prevention of Heart Disease
One of the first indicators that cacao might be good for heart health was the fact that there were a lot of old and healthy people found on an island inhabited by Kuna Indians in Central America or Panama to be more precise. People knew that Kuna Indians consumed significant amounts of raw cacao (3-4 cups per day). A scientific study revealed in the famous Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology has confirmed that heart disease was almost unknown to these people.
However, those who have moved to urban areas and started practicing modern lifestyles while giving up on cacao drinks, started struggling with hypertension. Numerous scientific studies, like more than a dozen dedicated to cacao’s impact on blood pressure, indicated relations between dark chocolate and optimal heart health. It is good to mention that there are a small number of people who experience migraines and headache when they consume cacao, so they should obviously be careful.
In addition, individuals suffering from allergies associated with chocolate should avoid all cacao products – dark chocolate, cacao powder, raw cacao etc.
2. The Positive Effects of Chocolate on Blood Vessel and Heart Cells
Theobroma is a cacao plant used as a source of dark chocolate. This plant has seeds which are packed with antioxidants. Many studies have shown that dark chocolate is among the ten best sources of antioxidants together with mint, cloves, berries and cacao powder.
In addition, dark chocolate is loaded with bioactive theobromine and flavanols, compounds that have positive impact on blood vessels and heart cells. This fact was confirmed by the scientists at the University of Mississippi.
However, there is a downside for those counting fat intake. Namely, one ounce of the delicious dark chocolate contains just 2 mg of cholesterol, but it also contain nine grams of fat. Generally speaking, the health benefits are much more numerous than the downsides. If you take pure dark chocolate (between 70 and 80%) then you won’t take many calories. When it comes to chocolates that have relatively low concentration of cacao, like milk chocolate for example, you can expect a lot of calories and mild or no heart benefits at all.
3. Dark Chocolate has The Ability to Improve Blood Flow
An Italian scientific study conducted two years ago and revealed in the popular Journal of the American Heart Association, has confirmed that consumption of dark chocolate helped individuals suffering from PAD – peripheral artery disease, with their walking performance.
In case you didn’t know PAD causes problem in blood circulation especially to the legs and arms, so sufferers usually experience cramping and pain and they can’t exercise or walk without feeling pain. Individuals with PAD who were part of this study consumed 40 grams of dark chocolate on daily basis and they were capable to walk about 15% longer and more than 10% farther.
There were also participants who ate milk chocolate, but they didn’t experience any change. The study was based on dark chocolate that had 85% cacao and polyphenols. Scientists have analyzed the indicators of oxidative stress too and they have discovered positive changes in people who consumed dark chocolate.
4. Cocoa Keeps Blood Pressure at Bay
In case you are like most people than your blood pressure is probably increasing every few years. But, the good news is that consumption of dark chocolate was associated with reduction of blood pressure too. The so-called Cochrane Review which was based on 20 controlled clinical trials has confirmed this.
The majority of these studies were not very long, but there was a 4-month trial which has confirmed that people have witnessed radical stabilization of blood pressure level. This study included two groups of people. The first one consumed 6 grams of dark chocolate every day. The other group ate 6 grams of white chocolate.
Obviously, the group that has taken dark chocolate witnessed much better results. The study has shown that the first group had systolic blood pressure that was reduced by three points. At the same time, their diastolic blood pressure was reduced by two points. Don’t forget that the perfect blood pressure is 120/80 or slightly less.
5. Dark Chocolate Can Reduce Stroke Risk
According to a group of Finnish scientists, consumption of chocolate can lower the risk of stroke. As we all know, stroke is one of the main health problems today and this is especially true for people suffering from atrial fibrillation also known as afib.
Many institutions have confirmed that stroke, a health condition that appears when a blood clot emerges inside the brain or whenever a blood vessel breaks, is the No.1 cause of disability in many countries in the world including the US.
So, the Finnish scientists have analyzed the occurrence of stroke in about 37.000 men over a period of one decade. Men who consumed about 60 grams of chocolate a week had significantly lower chances of experiencing stroke than those who didn’t.
In addition, five more scientific studies have confirmed that chocolate fans had 20% less chances of experiencing stroke compared to those who avoided chocolate. It turns out that dark chocolate aids the body’s effort to lower blood pressure and can also prevent diabetes and coronary artery disease.
6. With The Help of Dark Chocolate You Can Achieve Cholesterol Goals
In case you have problems managing cholesterol levels, you should know that there are many promising studies focused on blood cholesterol and dark chocolate. For instance, in one clinical trial, individuals who had hypertension consumed 100 grams of white or dark chocolate and people who consumed dark chocolate witnessed a drop of about 12% in their bad cholesterol.
A study in the Netherlands has shown that individuals who consumed dark chocolate have witnessed an increase in good (HDL) cholesterol. Scientists believe that the power of dark chocolate is mostly based on the presence of theobromine.
7. Dark Chocolate Helps People Get Rid of Stress
There are many doctors and ordinary people who forget that stress can contribute to the occurrence of heart disease. There is no doubt that you will be surprised and pleased to hear that dark chocolate can help. A scientific study conducted two years ago has shown that consumption of dark chocolate aided individuals who wanted to deal with stress.
Scientists were focused on measuring the levels of epinephrine and cortisol (stress hormones) and after that, asked participants in their study to perform some difficult tasks like solving a complex math problem in their heads. It turned out that people who consumed dark chocolate felt less stress and there were very low levels of stress hormones found in the body.