Five scientific reasons chocolate is good for you
Avoiding chocolate is difficult, but at Easter it’s harder than ever. So why deny yourself? Here are five scientific reasons why chocolate is good for you. Share it with your friends to brighten their weekends.
There is an island in Central America, called San Blas, where the indigenous people all have normal blood pressure, regardless of age. This made scientists sit up and take notice – how were they doing it? The indigenous people of San Blas were all drinking cocoa-rich drinks every day. Cocoa contains compounds known as ‘flavonols’, which are thought to be responsible for the production of nitric oxide in the body. Nitric oxide causes your blood vessels to relax and widen, which reduces your blood pressure. Further studies have shown that chocolate can be used to slightly reduce blood pressure, but scientists still aren’t sure what the optimum dose or cocoa-processing method might be. Find out more about chocolate reducing blood pressure.
Katharine Hepburn famously said, “What you see before you is the result of a lifetime of chocolate”. She may have been right. A study, undertaken at the University of California, San Diego, found that adults who eat chocolate on a regular basis are thinner than those who don’t. Those who ate a moderate amount of chocolate most days did not eat fewer calories overall, nor did they exercise more than those who did not eat chocolate. Find out more about this study on chocolate making you thinner.
Daily consumption of dark chocolate can reduce cardiovascular events, such as heart attack, in people with metabolic syndrome. The study looked at over 2000 people who already had high blood pressure and met the criteria for metabolic syndrome, but who had no history of heart disease or diabetes and were not on blood-pressure lowering medication. The results showed that consuming dark chocolate (at least 60 per cent cocoa) every day could avert 70 non-fatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular events per 10,000 people treated over 10 years. Find out more about chocolate reducing heart attacks.
A study of over 37,000 Swedish men has found that eating chocolate may reduce your risk of stroke. The study started with a questionnaire about the men’s eating habits. It then identified stroke cases over the following 10 years. Those eating the highest amount of chocolate were 17 per cent less likely to suffer a stroke. A similar study found that for every increase in chocolate consumption of 50g per week the risk of stroke decreased by 14 per cent. Find out more about how chocolate may reduce your risk of stroke.
To keep your loved one’s heart beating strongly, Susan Ofria, the Clinical Nutrition Manager at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, suggests dark chocolate and red wine. Red wine and dark chocolate (at least 70 per cent cocoa) contain resveratrol, which has been found to lower blood sugar. Red wine is also a source of catechins, which could help to improve ‘good’ HDL cholesterol. Find out more about foods which heal your heart.
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