Dark Chocolate: A Super Food

//Dark Chocolate: A Super Food

Dark Chocolate: A Super Food

Good news! Giving your sweetheart a gift of dark chocolate on Valentine’s Day is not only romantic, it’s also heart-healthy!

Dark chocolate is known as a “super food,” because it is chock-full of antioxidants that fight dangerous free radicals in your body. In addition, dark chocolate reduces blood pressure, increases the elasticity of the blood vessels, reduces inflammation, and reduces LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol. In sum, including dark chocolate in your diet can significantly reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Hard to believe? Read the medical research for yourself! Below, we’ve posted links to some of the studies.

A few weeks ago, I appeared on NBC News4 to discuss the many health benefits of dark chocolate and to offer a few other health-boosting suggestions. Click here to watch the full interview.

Here are the take-away points:

* Only dark chocolate provides health benefits, so stay away from the milk and white varieties.

* Look for dark chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa, the ingredient that is the source of the antioxidants. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the better.

* Eat chocolate in moderation! Not more than between 1.5 and 3.5 ounces per day. Although dark chocolate is good for you, the best diet is a balanced diet, so make sure you’re also eating plenty of fiber-rich fruits and vegetables.

* Don’t eat chocolate at night; it provides a dose of caffeine that can interfere with proper sleep, which is essential to obtaining and maintaining good health.

Medical Research Demonstrating the Benefits of Eating Dark Chocolate:

* Effect of cocoa products on blood pressure: systematic review and meta-analysis.

* Chocolate consumption is inversely associated with prevalent coronary heart disease: the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute Family Heart Study.

* The emerging role of flavonoid-rich cocoa and chocolate in cardiovascular health and disease.

* Effects of cocoa products/dark chocolate on serum lipids: a meta-analysis.

* Cocoa antioxidants and cardiovascular health.

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About the Author:

Gary Kaplan, DO
Gary Kaplan, D.O. is the founder and medical director of the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine and author of Total Recovery: A Revolutionary New Approach to Breaking the Cycle of Pain and Depression. A pioneer and leader in the field of integrative medicine, Dr. Kaplan is one of only 19 physicians in the country to be board-certified in both Family Medicine and Pain Medicine. Dr. Kaplan is a Clinical Associate Professor of Family Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine and serves on the Advisory Committee to Health and Human Services for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. To read Dr. Kaplan's complete bio, click here.