In The News: Chocolate's Effect on Coronary Heart Disease Explored Further

Reader Contribution by Justine Patton
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In the last five years, the media has been buzzing about one of America’s favorite delicacies, chocolate, and the health benefits it can bring. One study stated that chocolate rich in flavanols could help reduce stress, while others suggested dark chocolate could provide antioxidants, reduce inflammation and even slash your risk of heart disease.

With all these claims swirling around, it’s hard to know what to believe. However, a few experts have shed light on a few of these findings, and here’s what they found: The next time you get a craving for a sweet snack that may also help protect against coronary heart disease, reach for one of nature’s sweetest and purest contributions–dark chocolate. 

A few experts have shed some light on just how chocolate benefits our bodies.
Photo by Boz Bros/Courtesy

Researchers reviewed multiple studies to find out just how much chocolate affects coronary heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States for both men and women. Many of the results seem promising. One study found that those who eat chocolate at least five times per week are less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease. In another study, those who indulged in chocolate at least once per week had a 35 percent reduced risk of contracting the disease.

Nothing beats hot cocoa on a frigid, winter day, and the treat may contain health benefits as well. In another study, those who sipped on cocoa as their main beverage had a decreased likelihood of cardiovascular-related death.

Researchers also found some good news for chocolate lovers who struggle with high blood pressure or cholesterol levels. Patients who consumed flavanol-rich dark chocolate were more likely to see a decrease in blood pressure than those who munched on white chocolate.

In addition, one study showed eating dark chocolate resulted in a decrease in total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, the bad cholesterol that can build up in the inner walls of the arteries, sometimes resulting in a heart attack or stroke. Even better, another study found the same decrease in bad cholesterol and an increase in high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. HDL cholesterol is known as “good cholesterol,” because it carries cholesterol away from the arteries and to the liver where it is passed from the body.

Of course, future research is needed to truly determine just how much this sweet snack benefits our bodies. In the meantime, experts suggest consuming dark chocolate in moderate amounts.

To create a few homemade delicacies in the comfort of your own home, check out these recipes. Happy snacking! 

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