Today I want to tell you about a “health prescription” that’s not only easy to follow, it’s one you’re going to love to follow: Eat one to two squares of dark chocolate every day.
Study after study is confirming that plant chemicals in dark chocolate called flavanols can lower blood pressure and reduce inflammation. And a brand new study in the British Medical Journal found that high levels of chocolate consumption are associated with a one third reduction in the risk of developing heart disease.
A number of recent studies have found that eating chocolate has a positive influence on human health due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This includes reducing blood pressure and improving insulin sensitivity, which, as you know, is a key factor in preventing diabetes and obesity.
In the study in the British Medical Journal, Dr. Oscar Franco and his research term carried out what’s called a meta-analysis of all the existing evidence to find out what the effects of eating chocolate were on cardiovascular events like heart attack and stroke.
So they analyzed the results of seven different studies involving over 100 thousand participants with and without heart disease. For each study, they compared the group with the highest chocolate consumption against the group with the lowest consumption. Differences in study design and quality were also taken into account to minimize bias.
Five of the studies they looked at reported a beneficial link between higher levels of chocolate consumption and the risk of cardiovascular events. In fact, the highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% percent reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in stroke when compared to the lowest levels.
Now the thing about chocolate is that all the good stuff is found in the cocoa that it’s made from, so you really want to find a high-cocoa chocolate- we’re not talking about the candy bars you get at the 7-11 here, we’re talking about a cocoa-rich chocolate that contains all the flavanols that have been found to be so healthy. White chocolate and milk chocolate don’t have any of these, so you should really look for at least 60% cocoa when choosing a chocolate bar. You’ll also find that this kind of chocolate is really easy to eat in small quantities- it’s not so sweet that it causes you to crave more and more of it, and it’s really easy to be satisfied with just a square or two, which is really all you need for the health benefits.
And if for some reason you don’t like chocolate, or want to save the calories, another great way to get the benefits of cocoa flavanols is with a terrific supplement I’ve come across called COCOA-WELL. We don’t even sell it- it’s available at GNC- but it’s really good stuff and you can get a significant dose of those heart healthy cocoa flavanols just by taking one or two of these pills a day. You won’t get the great chocolate taste, but you also won’t get the calories!