New Year’s Resolution #2 – Have a small piece of dark chocolate daily

In the past I’ve blogged on How to Make Chocolate a Healthy Indulgence and on the Largest Study to Date Links Chocolate to Lower Blood Pressure and Cardiovascular Risk. Now comes another study about the healthful benefits of chocolate.

This study showed that people who eat a small amount of dark chocolate are less likely to develop heart problems over a nearly 10-year-period … in fact, at least 35 percent less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart disease over the course of the study, and nearly 60 percent less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart failure.

The study was discussed by Reuters Health. What’s nice, study author Dr. Joshua Lewis told Reuters Health, is that women did not have to eat a ton of chocolate to see benefits.

“We would, therefore, caution against people eating foods with high sugar and fat regularly and believe our findings support moderate rather than frequent chocolate consumption,” said Lewis, based at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Australia.

It is probably too early to begin recommending people eat more chocolate, cautioned Dr. Brian Buijsse at the German Institute of Human Nutrition, who did not participate in the study. And even if additional large studies confirmed its benefits, doctors still may not want to prescribe chocolate, he added.

“The danger is that many people will start eating more of it than is necessary, without cutting back in calories from other snacks, which will result in weight gain and will counteract any beneficial effects of chocolate,” Buijsse said.

This is not the first study to tout chocolate’s potential benefits: Italian researchers found that eating small amounts of dark chocolate regularly may help lower levels of inflammation, which is strongly associated with heart and blood vessel disease.

And another study showed that foods rich in antioxidants known as flavonoids – including dark chocolate and apples and red wine – may help shield postmenopausal women from coronary heart disease, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

Flavonoids are thought to reduce the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death in many industrialized countries, by helping to increase nitric oxide, which in turn helps boost the functioning of blood vessels and lower blood pressure.

So, what’s the bottom line? For my patients, I would say that if you want to eat chocolate to improve your health, you should keep it to low amounts and replace it for other energy-dense snacks.

In fact, in another blog, I warn that too much chocolate may be connected to depression. But, for now, a little bit of dark chocolate daily may be highly healthy.

You can learn more about nutritional health and other highly healthy habits in my newest health book, 10 Essentials of Happy, Healthy People: Becoming and staying highly healthy. It’s available here.

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© Copyright WLL, INC. 2015. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.

Too much chocolate may be connected to depression
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