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Chocolate and the heart

Is eating chocolate a good thing for your heart or are you edging yourself closer to a heart attack with every piece?

Well, the good news is that in moderation chocolate may have some health benefits for the heart. This is primarily due to flavonoids, a plant nutrient found in high concentrations in the cacao bean (and red wine!). Flavanoids behave as an antioxidant. If you don’t consume enough antioxidants you can get a build-up of low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol on the artery walls. This leads to an increase in blood pressure and can cause heart disease.

Flavanoids also reduce the likelihood of blood cells, called platelets, sticking together and causing blood clots in the heart and brain.

So milk or dark chocolate then? It probably doesn’t matter. What’s important is how processed the chocolate is, as the more processing, the more flavanoids are removed. Chocolate bars contain heavily processed chocolate so it’s not as easy as grabbing a bar of chocolate at the petrol station. You’re really looking for the least processed chocolate to get the most benefit. Remember though, milk chocolate contains a lot of milk fats that can be harmful so dark chocolate is generally considered the healthier option.

Obviously you can’t only eat dark chocolate to stave off heart disease, but you can feel a little less guilty.