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Taking Chocolate To Heart

darkchocolate Chocolate: The Newest Heart Healthy FoodIt’s beginning to look like chocolate, especially dark chocolate, really and truly is a heart healthy snack, though only if it’s consumed in small quantities.

A delectable taste of this news came last spring, in the form of a study by German scientists which appeared in the European Heart Journal. It was a retrospective study of nearly 20,000 people, and it showed that folks in the highest quartile for chocolate consumption (meaning they consumed 7.5 grams of chocolate per day — the equivalent of 2 to 3 small squares of a Hershey bar), had lower blood pressure, a 27 percent lower risk of heart attack, and a 48 percent lower risk of stroke than those in the lowest quartile (about 1.7 grams per day).

Now, a new study in the journal Cardiovascular Pharmacology has lent credence to those findings by suggesting a mechanism through which chocolate reduces blood pressure. In the study, Ingrid Persson and colleagues at Linkoping University showed that dark chocolate inhibits the activity of the angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE). This enzyme helps regulate fluids and salt metabolism in the body. It is the target of many well-known antihypertensive drugs including captopril, lisinopril and enalopril.

To reach these conclusions, Persson’s team somehow managed to recruit 16 volunteers who were between the ages of 20 and 45, and convinced them to eat 75 grams (about 2 1/2 ounces) of dark chocolate which had a cocoa content of 72 percent. The team measured ACE activity in the subjects’ blood before they consumed the treat, and again 30 minutes, one hour, and three hours later.

The scientists found that three hours after the intreprid volunteers consumed the chocolate, ACE activity was 18 percent lower than the baseline established before they had the treat. That’s about the same level of ACE inhibition generated by those prescription drugs!

“I was surprised by the great effect,” Persson told MyHealthNewsDaily.

One caveat here as we approach the holidays and the overwhelming urge to overeat that they generate in most of us. The benefits of chocolate are achieved after consuming small amounts of chocolate — we’re talking about 100 calories worth. No further benefits accrue to those who gobble down more than that, and of course those calories add up quickly. In no way do these studies suggest that consuming large quantities of chocolate is healthy, and certainly chocolate should not be substituted for other healthy foods like fruits, veggies and whole grains. Efforts to maintain a healthy body weight are still of paramount importance. And exercise is, too.

Still, with chocolate, it’s looking more and more like a little bit, consumed on a regular basis, can go a long way toward improving heart health. Make mine Lindt!

*This blog post was originally published at Pizaazz*


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2 Responses to “Taking Chocolate To Heart”

  1. As a heart attack survivor and an admitted chocoholic, I celebrate this great news! I now find that the darker the chocolate and the higher the cocoa content, the more I can be satisfied with just one little exquisit piece every evening after dinner.

    But there’s a very dark side behind the manufacturing of that chocolate we love so much that your readers should all be aware of.

    About half of the world’s cocoa comes from the Ivory Coast in Africa. Every year, hundreds of thousands of African children from Mali, Burkina Faso, and Togo are sold as slaves to cocoa farms where they live and work in unspeakable conditions up to 100 hours a week without pay; most never see their families ever again.

    The $13 billion North American chocolate industry is heavily dominated by just two firms — Hershey’s and M&M Mars — who control two-thirds of the chocolate market. Both of these companies admit to using large amounts of Ivory Coast cocoa.

    If you love chocolate but would like to support only slavery-free chocolates, remember that NO ORGANIC COCOA BEANS are grown in the Ivory Coast, so organic chocolate is unlikely to be tainted by the horrors of child slavery.

    For a list of slavery-free chocolate brands (as well as the brand names of well-known North American chocolates that are almost certainly implicated in child-slavery produced cocoa beans) read: “Do You Know The Bitter Dark Secret Behind That Sweet Taste of Chocolate?” at THE ETHICAL NAG: MARKETING ETHICS FOR THE EASILY SWAYED-
    http://ethicalnag.org/2010/08/16/slavery-chocolate/

  2. here you can browse and buy any of our healthy chocolate products.
    Dark, Milk and White chocolate products are available so there is something to suit everyone
    gluten free chocolate

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