Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Chocolate for you heart: is it really all that good?

The word "chocolate" originates in M...Image via Wikipedia

No doubt, over the last few years you've heard about the health benefits of chocolate. Study results  show that consuming deep, dark chocolate or raw cacao has a beneficial effect on the risk factors involved in developing future cardiovascular and metabolic illnesses. Keep in mind that this is not the processed, sugary milk chocolate that you would grab in the supermarket check-out. But instead, the health benefits lie with the unprocessed and raw stuff.  I once tasted this stuff on a cacao tour in the Dominican Republic, the stuff has no taste.  Anyway,  iby consuming the unprocessed fruit, it has been found that there was a:

37% reduction in cardiovascular disease

29% reduction in stroke

How does chocolate do this?  Well, it reduces the clumping together of blood platelets which can form a clot that can cause a blockage in coronary blood vessels. This could cause an infarct: in the  heart, which  is called a myocardial infarction; or, in the brain, a brain attack-or stroke.  This means that the blood supply (which carries oxygen) is cut off, which could cause a portion of either organ to die. The antioxidants in chocolate helps fight off this kind of damage.

Are all chocolates created equal?

  As I mentioned earlier, I believe that most folks jumped on the bandwagon thinking that "Wow, that's great!" But some caution is advised.  This isn't the same chocolate candy bar that you bny at the check out counter in the supermarket.  This is the unprocessed and bitter chocolate that you buy when you are going to make a real chocolate dessert from scratch: dark and unsweetened chocolate and that is bitter!

Research is discovering other remarkable attributes of chocolate.  One of them is that it contains  a flavonoid called, epicatechin. (Flavonoids are other antioxidants). These compounds have been shown to reduce the injury after a stroke by releasing signals to decrease or prevent nerve damage.

How much should you eat?

That is an important question because studies have shown that 7 grams, or approximately one half of a bar per week would provide benefits to a person desiring the protective benefits of this wonderful substance. Anything above that would cancel out the beneficial effects.

What else can you do?

Stick to a diet that is low is fat and exercise regulary-thirty minutes daily. In addition to that you might add:

-At least eight hours of sleep.

-Minimize stress by relaxation techniques.  Take a vacation.

-Stay busy in your free time like finding a hobby and regularly participating in it.  Like ballroom dancing, traveling, etc.

-Limit trans fats and increase the omega fats in you diet.



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