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A Hearty Chocolate

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Studies have found that eating around 100 grams of dark chocolate over the course of a day, more than one day a week, could be beneficial to the cardiovascular system, helping to reduce blood pressure and stimulate pulse rate, as well as promote heart and blood vessel strength.
  • The most beneficial type of chocolate is dark chocolate made from pure cocoa, meaning that it has a high cocoa content of 70-85%.
  • Although dark chocolate contains low levels of sugar and milk, this doesn’t mean that it is milk and sugar free. Therefore, consumption of any chocolate should be moderated.

 

When you see red roses and chocolates everywhere you turn, you know it’s Valentine’s Day or there’s a love story brewing.  We often commemorate love with chocolates as it’s believed to heighten romantic desires or because it’s sweet smell and luscious texture makes it a suitable gift for any occasion. Afterall, who doesn’t like chocolates? They are tempting, tasty and can be good for the heart too.

Chocolates for the heart

Chocolate contains chemicals which are good for our health and can help to prevent against numerous types of illnesses. Such chemicals include:

  1. Caffeine: The qualities of caffeine stimulate the central nervous system, increasing circulation to the various bodily organs.
  2. Theobromine: This chemical can help to reduce blood pressure, stimulate heart function and reduce the risk of a myocardial infarction.
  3. Flavonoid: A chemical which belongs to the polyphenol group of antioxidants, this substance promotes blood vessel strength in the heart and brain, as well as reduces the risk of various diseases developing.

Chocolates that feel good

In addition to the benefits which chocolate can provide for heart health, it has also been found to contain the following substances:

  1. Anandamide (derived from the Sanskrit word for happiness): This substance is responsible for reducing pain, regulating the body’s core temperature, and helping us to feel great.
  2. Phenylethylamine (PEA): A chemical that helps the body to produce neurotransmitters which aide stress relief, it is viewed as playing a key role in giving chocolate its feel good factor, and also acts as an aphrodisiac.

The right chocolates in the right amount

To get the best effects from chocolate, select only dark chocolates, made from real cocoa. Such products will contain levels of cocoa measuring between 70-85%, meaning that for every 100 grams of chocolate eaten, 70-85% will be cocoa.

Although dark chocolate contains small amounts of sugar and milk, this doesn’t mean that they are not there at all. Hence, any chocolate should be eaten in moderation. Studies into the subject have found that eating around 100 grams of dark chocolate over the course of a day, more than one day a week, can be beneficial to heart and blood vessel health, without increasing blood lipid levels or the size of your waistline. This hearty snack can work well as a pre-workout fuel and gifted guilt free this Valentine’s Day.


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