Heart disease is still the number one killer of Americans. Nutrition science continues to evolve over the years as we learn more about the mechanism of foods and nutrients. Unfortunately with the addition of medications, many Americans believe that lifestyle changes are unnecessary which could not be further from the truth. Medication in addition to diet and exercise significantly decrease heart disease risk.
Expert: Sharon Jacob, Clinical Dietitian at St. Francis Medical Center
Chocolate is good for your heart!
Question: We have been talking about the heart healthy fats and oils, tomorrow is Valentines Day, so chocolate is also good for my heart right?
While a heart filled box of chocolates sounds tasty, the health benefits of the cocoa bean are real if you don’t have the high fat sugary fillings.
Question: So if I just eat the outside of my chocolates I am ok?
Well, not exactly! The active ingredient promoting the cholesterol lowering benefits are the flavanols, which is a phytochemical or plant chemical in the cocoa beans. These flavanols relax the blood vessels and improve blood flow to our heart as well as slow down the plaque buildup in our arteries. Dark chocolate has the highest level of flavanols. Unfortunately dark chocolate is too bitter to eat without the added fat, sugar and calories that make it taste so good.
Question: So how much chocolate do I have to eat a day for benefits?
1-2 ounces of dark chocolate per day has been shown to have a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease risk and 29% decrease in stroke risk. Milk chocolate is much lower in flavanol content and white chocolate is not even chocolate at all, just cocoa butter which doesn’t contain any flavanols. Cocoa Via is a new supplement that contains 250mg flavanols/serving without the fat, sugar or calories. However, eating the whole food is much more enjoyable and likely more beneficial for your heart.