It is news that chocolate lovers have been waiting for–research published in the British Journal of Medicine strongly demonstrates the health benefits of dark chocolate! The meta-analysis study sought to evaluate the theoretical association between dark chocolate consumption and cardiometabolic health, as seen in previous studies. The study, with a random sample of over 100,000 people found that people with high consumption of dark chocolate had:
- a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease
- a 28% reduction in stroke
This is exciting news, and builds upon previous studies showing dark chocolate improves insulin sensitivity in diabetes, and helps to lower blood pressure. The cardioprotective nature of dark chocolate is thought to be mediated through the polyphenol constituent, flavonol. Flavonols act in the body to increase nitric oxide bioavailability, which in turn has a positive pharmacologic effect on the cells of the cardiovascular system:
- Relaxing the endothelium (interior lining) of blood vessels
- Improving the insulin mediated uptake of glucose
What does this mean, and how will you benefit? Well, studies show that 100g of dark chocolate contains approximately 50mg of polyphenols, and is a sufficient dose to provide a positive health effect on the heart, helping to lower blood pressure, and improving insulin function.
But wait…there must be a catch? And as anything that is too good to be true, this is no exception! Dark chocolate is heavily caloric, containing 5 calories/gram, so despite the heart benefits of dark chocolate, it can quickly become a heart problem if taken in excess. As is well known, excess weight gain is heavily correlated with heart disease, so be careful not to turn your heart friend in to your heart enemy!
So, eat your dark chocolate….just not too much of it!