Chocolate is popular with many people for its special taste, but it also has a reputation for contributing to health problems and weight gain. This often overlooks the fact that the right chocolate can also have significant benefits for heart health.
Chocolate available in stores in this country is usually very sweet, which is due to a high content of sugar, such as white chocolate and milk chocolate in particular. The sugar it contains not only promotes weight gain, but also increases the risk of various diseases.
Chocolate can be healthy
Overall, chocolate is considered unhealthy, but this is only partially true. In fact, there is indeed chocolate that consumption can have beneficial effects on certain areas of health, including our hearts.
Pay attention to the cocoa content
In general, it can be said that healthy chocolate should have as high a cocoa content as possible and as little sugar as possible. According to the nutritionist Mira Ilic from the Cleveland Clinic (USA), such dark chocolate is characterized by a cocoa content of at least 35 percent.
If the cocoa content of chocolate is around 50 percent, it often has designations such as dark or off-dry. Chocolate with a cocoa content of between 50 and 70 percent is called dark chocolate. A cocoa content of more than 70 percent is so-called dark chocolate.
Heart healthy chocolate
According to the nutritionist, consuming chocolate with a lot of cocoa also promotes heart health, which is particularly due to the flavonoids it contains. According to Ilic, these have a variety of positive effects on the heart.
For example, flavonoids help lower cholesterol and blood pressure while reducing the risk of blood clots. They also ensure that blood platelets are not so sticky and also improve blood flow to various organs, explains the expert.
Chocolate with a high cocoa content (between 70 percent and 85 percent) is recommended to protect heart health. In general, it should be noted that the chocolate should not contain any filling, unless it consists of nuts, dried or fresh fruit.
How much chocolate a day?
To prevent weight gain, Ilic advises consuming a maximum of 30 grams of dark chocolate per day, with the calories contained being saved elsewhere in the diet if possible.
Since white chocolate and milk chocolate contain significantly less cocoa and therefore significantly more sugar, health benefits cannot be expected here.
Flavonoids promote heart health
One study also reports that flavonoids found in chocolate have antioxidant properties that help prevent aging and are beneficial in heart disease and diabetes.
The research analyzed data on more than twenty chocolate ingredients and more than 60 different types of chocolate to determine which chocolate is healthiest for people with heart disease.
They found that there was an association between heart health benefits and higher cocoa content, while higher sugar levels were associated with disadvantages. This reinforces Ilic’s statements that dark chocolate with as much cocoa as possible is the healthiest.
Protects women from death from cardiovascular disease
In a current research study with a total of 84,709 postmenopausal participants, it was also examined how the consumption of chocolate affects all-cause mortality and also cause-specific mortality.
According to the team, analysis of the data revealed a modest inverse association between chocolate consumption and all-cause mortality, which specifically included premature deaths from cardiovascular disease or dementia.
Dark chocolate can prevent essential hypertension
In a third independent study from this year, researchers found that the consumption of dark chocolate is significantly associated with reducing the risk of essential hypertension, i.e. persistent high blood pressure without an identifiable cause.
In addition, the consumption of dark chocolate potentially reduces the risk of venous thromboembolism. According to the team, however, no connection was found between the consumption of dark chocolate and ten other cardiovascular diseases.
Chocolate for a healthy heart
Overall, it can be said that chocolate can very well be heart-healthy. Regular consumption can significantly reduce the risk of various heart diseases and, in women, even the likelihood of premature death from cardiovascular diseases, as long as the cocoa content is high enough and the sugar content is as low as possible. (as)