Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Is Chocolate Good Or Bad for Your Heart?

Chocolate is one that many of us have difficulty to refuse. Many scientists have studied the possible impacts of the consumption of chocolate on our bodies including heart and arteries. As you might expect, some of these findings might be positive while others were just negative.

For instance, a paper published in the British medical journal Lancet in 2007 pointed out that any health claims about dark chocolate might not be justified. Instead, many of these chocolate products are harmful to the heart and arteries as they are actually abundant in fat and sugar.

Plain chocolate is rich in flavanols or plant chemicals that are thought to protect the heart and lower blood pressure. However, because of its bitter taste, most manufacturers usually remove flavanols during their making of chocolate products. Therefore, even the co-called dark chocolate products can have no flavanols.

On the other hand, researchers from the Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric & Environmental Epidemiology, at Yale University reported on April 28, 2008 in the May 2008 issue of Epidemiology that daily consumption of a quality dark chocolate is healthy for pregnant women and protects them from getting into hypertension (high blood pressure).

The study involved 2,291 women and spanned over a period of 4 years (1996 to 2000). The density of theobromine (a chemical in chocolate) in the arterial cord blood extracted from the umbilical cord at delivery was measured. The results shown that there was a 69 percent less chance of developing preeclampsia if pregnant women ate rich, dark chocolate.

Preeclampsia, affecting up to 8 percent of pregnancies, is a major pregnancy complication with cardiovascular manifestations such as hypertension.

The theobromine concentrations in chocolate can vary from 0.15 percent to 0.46 percent. According to the researchers, the darker the chocolate is, the better it is. Those highly processed chocolate can be rich in fat and sugar and low in the amount of theobromine.

Besides theobromine, chocolate also contains other chemicals including magnesium, which lowers hypertension, and flavanoids, which are potent antioxidants.

If you like chocolate very much and at the same time want your heart to be healthy, you should only put those dark and bitter chocolates (less fat and sugar) in your future buying list.

No comments:

Post a Comment