6 Heart-Healthy Benefits of Dark Chocolate
If you’re trying to maintain a heart-healthy diet, eating sweets usually isn’t encouraged. But we have some good news: There’s a loophole to this theory. Dark chocolate may feel like an indulgent treat, but it actually has a plethora of health benefits. You may have heard of some of these benefits, but dark chocolate can offer way more than the basic nutrients publicized. It can be an amazing tool when consumed in proper moderation. Below, take a look at some of the best things about this tasty treat.
1. Full of Antioxidants
Dark chocolate is famous for its incredible delivery of antioxidants; it’s actually in the top 10 sources for dietary antioxidants. Antioxidants are linked to reduction of plaque formation that can block arteries and become dangerous—so you can eat the chocolate, and your body will thank you.
2. Improve Your Circulation
A study published in the American Heart Association’s Circulation Research, indicates consuming the cocoa found in dark chocolate can help to lessen the symptoms of peripheral artery disease (PAD), which limits blood circulation. Patients who ate dark chocolate were able to walk further and longer due to improved circulation attributed to the sweet treat.
3. Manage High Blood Pressure
Eating dark chocolate is a great way to incorporate more cacao into your diet, which can help to lower your high blood pressure! The flavonoids in dark chocolate have been found to produce nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to relax and lower high blood pressure. As long as you mind the amount you consume and consider your intake of fats, sugars, and calories carefully, dark chocolate is a great way to indulge in a sweet treat without messing up your heart-healthy diet.
4. Linked to Lowered Stroke Risk
A Finnish study from 2012 indicates chocolate can be closely tied to a lowered risk of stroke. This is exceptionally helpful for those living with atrial fibrillation (AFib), who are five times more likely to suffer from a stroke than those without AFib,
5. Lower Your Cholesterol
Dark chocolate contains compounds such as polyphenols and theobromine that can decrease levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the body and increase levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. In layman’s terms, it heightens your “good” cholesterol levels and lowers your “bad cholesterol” levels.
6. Level Out Blood Sugar and Inflammatory Markers
Dark chocolate also contains several anti-inflammatory components that can be immensely beneficial to your overall heart health. A study from 2018 noted that participants who consumed higher levels of dark chocolate consumption had reduced inflammatory biomarkers (among patients with type 2 diabetes). This indicates a correlation with blood sugar regulation— an important part of a heart-healthy lifestyle that affects blood sugar, muscle exertion, and obesity. Overall, dark chocolate was found to be a beneficial addition for certain diabetic patients.
Properly taking care of your heart is an important part of living a long, healthy life—so make sure to exercise and eat a bit of dark chocolate every now and then. Head to the CVG blog to discover more helpful tips for developing a healthy diet and lifestyle, including our best practices on navigating the pandemic as a heart patient.