Ask-A-Doc, February

Posted 10/07/19 (Mon)

Chocolate and Heart Health: Too Sweet to Be True?

Answer from Dr. Jackie Quisno.

Q: Is chocolate actually good for your heart? 

A: Yes! But in moderation. And certain types are heart-healthier than others.

Valentine’s Day is a great reminder to take steps to improve your heart health and it appears that indulging in a little bit of chocolate isn’t quite as bad for you as once believed. 

Cocoa beans are rich in flavonoids, a plant nutrient that create antioxidants. Flavanols are a type of flavonoid that can be found in chocolate. Flavanols have antioxidant qualities which means they act like a protectant in our cells by cleaning toxins, lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow and making blood better able to clot.  

Unfortunately, not all chocolate has these types of benefits. Most commercial chocolates are highly processed, particularly the milk chocolate which is also loaded with fats and sugars. Dark chocolate was noted as having the highest levels flavanols, but it’s more about the process. 

So, for now, your best choices are likely dark chocolate over milk chocolate, and both to be enjoyed in moderation. A small portion of chocolate (about 1 ounce) a few times per week are perfectly acceptable but remember to keep your heart healthy by including other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, red wine, tea, onions and cranberries and get plenty of exercise. 


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