Help For Your Health With Chocolate

Lowering high blood pressure and cardiovascular risk can now be downright delicious.

Happy Heart News
Studies at the American Association for the Advancement of Science reveals that cocoa and dark chocolate contain flavonols which prevent substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and clogging arteries, as well as helping the body process nitric oxide, a compound that promotes healthy blood flow and blood pressure.

Flavonoids are naturally-occurring plant compounds found in a wide array of foods that are recognized as having certain health benefits. Cranberries, apples, peanuts, onions, tea, dark chocolate and red wine are flavonoid-rich. Flavonoids have antioxidant powers that provide protective benefits from environmental toxins. Flavonoids in chocolate are called flavonols.

Euphoric about Flavonols
In addition to these antioxidant capabilities, the flavonols in chocolate are also thought to affect the relaxation capabilities of blood vessels. This is why a soothing and almost euphoric feeling may occur after consuming dark chocolate. Also, these same flavonols may positively affect the balance of certain hormone-like compounds called eicosanoids, which are thought to play a role in cardiovascular health. This is similar to the role a low-dose aspirin plays in promoting blood flow. This reduces the ability of the blood to clot, which also reduces the risk of stroke and heart attack.

Dr. Carl Keen, lead study author, cautions that eating chocolate bars is not supposed to be a substitute for taking a recommended daily dose of aspirin.

The Fat in Chocolate
Some people may be concerned about the fat content in chocolate. The fat in chocolate, from cocoa butter, contains what is known as oleic acid. Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fat (also found in olive oil) and is actually healthy for your heart.

This good news does not mean we should have as much chocolate as we like. Also, it is important to know what forms of chocolate would be ideal over others.

How cocoa is processed into chocolate products determines how many flavonols are lost. The processes known as fermentation, alkalizing, and roasting all have an effect on the level of flavonols that are retained.

As of now, dark chocolate appears to retain the highest level of flavonoids. So you are better off eating dark chocolate over milk chocolate.

In Conclusion
So should we eat chocolate for its health benefits or for its fabulous taste?

The test results are starting to show strong evidence to the former. Even the USDA Food Composition Laboratory is convinced. They are developing a database that will include cocoa among the flavonoid-rich plant foods.

So soon you might be hearing your physician saying that a chocolate a day will keep the doctor away. Life does not get better than that.

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About The Author, Happyascanbe
Debbie Adler bakes nutritious and delicious cupcakes, cookies, brownies and muffins using only organic dark chocolate at her bakery Sweet Debbie's Organic Cupcakes. Sign up for FREE Sweets at