Health and chocolate
Chocolate reduces the chance of a heart attack
People who have survived a heart attack should eat chocolate twice a week to reduce the chance of recurrence, according to researchers. A Swedish study has in fact shown that when heart patients eat chocolate regularly, they reduce the chance of a second heart attack by 70%. Even those who eat chocolate only once a week reduce the chance of recurrence by 50%.
Chocolate reduces the chance of a heart attack
Eating chocolate can increase the chances of surviving a heart attack considerably. This is the conclusion reached in a study conducted by the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Patients who after suffering a heart attack eat chocolate twice a week, have three times less of a chance of dying from a fatal heart disease than patients who never eat chocolate, according to the researchers. Smaller quantities apparently provide less protection, but are nonetheless better than complete abstinence from chocolate. The researchers moreover pointed out that the positive effects were noted only with chocolate. Other sweets apparently have no effect all in all.
Connection between cocoa products and low blood pressure
Previous research studies had shown that there is a strong link between cocoa products and lower blood pressure and improved blood circulation. It has moreover also been shown that the use of chocolate by older men and post-menopausal women reduced the mortality-rate from heart-related diseases.
Recently, the Karolinska Institute showed for the first time that chocolate consumption also increases the chances of survival after a heart attack. Because other sweets have no positive impact on health, the researchers suppose that the anti-oxidants in cocoa are responsible for the greater chances of survival for heart patients.
“Our research supports the growing evidence that chocolate is a rich source of beneficial bioactive components,” they point out.
The positive results of the Swedish research study pertain to both men and women and were noted in all age categories. A number of clinical tests must still be carried out to support the results of the study further, but the researchers added that moderate use of chocolate will do no harm. Needless to say, due account is taken of the growing weight problem for many people.
Australian researchers concur
Eating dark chocolate can reduce blood pressure by 5% in patients who suffer from high blood pressure, while reducing the chance of a heart attack by 20% over five years, an Australian study has concluded. The secret lies in the flavonoids contained in chocolate, which remove blood fats naturally, thereby improving blood circulation and lowering blood pressure.
The researchers are elated. “This shows that you do not always need to take medicines to lower your blood pressure. Food can help too,” says Karin Ried of Adelaide University. The ten percent of patients who cannot tolerate medicines or for whom medication is of no help can also benefit from chocolate.
Frequent chocolate consumption could reduce CHD risk, US study
By Jane Byrne , 21-Sep-2010
Frequent chocolate consumption was associated with a lower prevalence of coronary heart disease (CHD) in men and women independent of traditional risk factors, according to a review of a national US based heart, lung and blood study.
The conclusions, published in the journal Clinical Nutrition, come on the back of a body of research pointing to the positive impact of flavonoids in chocolate.
And the authors, including researchers based at the Harvard Medical School and the Boston University School of Medicine, argue that their findings are consistent with a recent study in the German Heart Journal which showed dark chocolate intake was associated with a 39 per cent lower risk of myocardial infarction and stroke combined.
Dark chocolate belongs to the flavonoid-rich foods such as fruit and vegetables, tea, and red wine, with epidemiologic evidence indicates that beneficial effects of these on CHD are partly mediated through the effects of their polyphenolic compounds.
The authors hold that while interventional studies have demonstrated beneficial effects of dark chocolate on blood pressure and endothelial function, there is, in fact, limited data available on the effects of total chocolate intake on CHD.
And they decided to analyse data taken from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Family Heart Study to evaluate this link.
The scientists explained that, using a cross-sectional design, they studied 4,970 participants aged 25 to 93 years, whose chocolate intake had been assessed through a semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire. “We used generalized estimating equations to estimate adjusted odds ratios,” said the authors.
Of the total study cohort, 2,258 participants were men while 2,712 were women. The average age was 52.0 years and CHD prevalence was 10.9 per cent, added the researchers.
The researchers found that there was evidence for an inverse association between frequency of chocolate consumption and prevalent CHD in crude and adjusted models.
In the fully adjusted model, consumption of chocolate more than five times a week was associated with 57 per cent lower prevalent CHD compared with subjects who did not consume chocolate.
“Exclusion of subjects with prevalent diabetes and those who were on a weight loss diet made the association stronger,” they added.
They said that similar associations were observed in subjects who were 60 years of age or younger and those above the age of 60. Furthermore, they said, similar associations were seen among smokers and non-smokers.
The researchers admit, however, that the cross-sectional design of their study limits their ability to draw casual inference. “In addition, misclassification and reporting bias are inherent to self-reported data on chocolate consumption and we were not able to differentiate dark from milk or lighter chocolate,” they stated.
But the authors also stress that the inability to distinguish the different types of chocolate might have led to an underestimation of the true association between cocoa/chocolate polyphenol consumption and CHD in the study.
And they argue that large sample size (most of whom were from population-based studies), the availability on multiple CHD risk factors, and the multi-centre nature of the study are the strengths of the study.
What does chocolate do for me ?
Like with any food, it is good to know how it affects your body.
Chocolate has many beneficial properties, but just like with red wine ……..
ALL THINGS IN MODERATION !
These polyphenols are called flavonoids
Chocolate has twice the amount found in red wine and 3 times that found in green tea
They have an antioxidant property, which means that they neutralize “free radicals” that are in the atmosphere or the body from smoke, pollution and sunlight
Free radicals are small reactive molecules that cause damage to the cells in the body. They are cancer causing and are a main cause of aging, so that means that chocolate can aid in cancer prevention and is an anti-aging product !
They contribute to healthy cardiovascular function, as they reduce the blood’s ability to slot and stick to artery walls, thus reducing the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
Acts similarly to low dose aspirin in promoting healthy blood flow
Dark chocolate is higher in flavonoids than milk chocolate
It is a mild stimulant
Has been known to prevent coughs
Has a mild diuretic action (increase urine production)
This property is what makes chocolate toxic to animals like dogs, cats, parrots and horses.
Is a stimulant
Amount is very low, much less than in coffee, tea or cola.
Is a mild anti depressant
It is called the “love chemical” as it mediates feelings of attraction, excitement, giddiness and euphoria
Some cultures in the Caribbean use chocolate mixed with cane sugar as an aphrodisiac during wedding celebrations
If this concoction is taken in large amounts, it becomes a hallucinogen
Is a stimulant similar to your body’s own dopamine and adrenalin, which promotes increased blood flow and stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain.
Chocolate increases level of serotonin in the brain, which helps with depression and PMS symptoms.
Vitamins and Minerals
Contains amounts of magnesium (helps with PMS symptoms), calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, and manganese
Contains vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, C, E, and pantothenic acid
All these help in keeping blood pressure low, your blood flowing freely and your heart healthy.
An essential amino acid which lessens anxiety by producing the neurotransmitter, serotonin
This in turn causes the body to release endorphins, which are the body’s natural opiates
Reduces sensitivity to pain (pain reliever).
One of the natural opiates (endorphins) that are released is Anandamide, which acts like a cannabinoid to produce the “chocolate high”
When drugs are used to block the brain’s opiate receptors, the desire for chocolate (and other sweet foods) disappears, confirming chocolate’s addictive nature.
The 12 step chocoholics program … NEVER BE MORE THAN 12 STEPS AWAY FROM CHOCOLATE !!! (Terry Moore).
Cocoa Bean Husk
The outer part of the bean has properties that thwart mouth bacteria and tooth decay (it’s antibacterial!)
The extract may one day be added to mouthwash and tooth paste and put back into the chocolate product to make it better for our teeth.
Babies born to mothers that eat chocolate daily were found to be more active and positively reactive (smiling and laughter).
They showed less fear of new situations than babies of non-chocolate eating mothers
This was found to be due to the relaxed, well being effect that chocolate promotes.
CHOCOLATE IS CONSIDERED A BIOACTIVE COMPOUND, AS IT PROMOTES ALERTNESS, LESSENS PAIN AND PROMOTES WELL BEING !
Chocolate is good for cardiovascular health
Having highlighted the anti-
depressant and cardio-protective virtues of chocolate, this is a
trial which reveals the mechanisms. The flavonoids in chocolate
exert a relaxing effect on the arteries, and more particularly
The large family of flavonoids
The effects of chocolate on cardiovascular health have been
attributed to the flavonoids contained in cocoa. These
substances constitute a very wide range of natural ingredients
belonging to the polyphenol family. Their contribution to health
was initially revealed by their presence in red wine with the
Relaxation of the vessels
In order to more precisely determine the mechanism by which
cocoa influences cardiovascular health, researchers undertook a
study consisting of asking healthy respondents to drink
different types of cocoa-based drinks. These varied according to
the nature of the flavonoids they contained.
It was observed that only a chocolate drink rich in epicatechin
lead to a relaxation of the blood vessels.
In order to confirm this discovery, participants this time
received either a placebo or a solution containing only the
epicatechin derived from cocoa. The latter group alone showed a
vascular response identical to that of people having consumed a
drink rich in cocoa.
It was concluded
that epicatechin is the flavonoid responsible for the
cardiovascular benefits of cocoa.
It should be noted that, although this molecule is particularly
abundant in cocoa, it is also found in fruits, vegetables, red
wine and green tea.
Dr Philippe Presles, adapted by C. De Kock, health journalist
Chocolate: a new miracle product for diabetes, CVA and vascular dementia
Scientists have identified
antioxidants in cocoa which may improve the treatment of
diabetes, cerebral vascular accidents and vascular dementia
Over the last six years, scientific research has completely
reviewed the nutritional advantages of chocolate. The high point
of this update: the revelation of an extraordinary richness in
polyphenols - antioxidants- in cocoa and therefore, in
By way of comparison, dark
chocolate is richer in these antioxidants than most fruits and,
especially, red wine, whose virtues for the hearts have been
unanimously praised. They all depend on these molecules which
are as numerous as they are complex.
The first discoveries
underlined the cardio-protective effects of cocoa and dark
chocolate. New research indicates that in the future, the
polyphenols in chocolate may also contribute to the treatment of
diabetes, cerebral vascular accidents and vascular dementia.
Scientists working for one
of the world's largest producers of chocolate have recently
explained that these molecules could soon be available for the
development of new drugs in the pharmaceutical industry!
From chocolate to pill
"Currently, we are getting more and more consistent experimental
and clinical results for the molecules in question says Dr Norm
Hollenberg, Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and
one of the first scientists to identify the therapeutic
potential of flavenols in cocoa
Today we can say
with certainty that they are specifically responsible for
reducing platelet aggregation with a similar effect to that of
aspirin which makes the blood more fluid and therefore reduces
the risk of thrombosis. This discovery has major implications
for pharmaceutical applications.
New clinical studies have also revealed that the flavenols in
cocoa can increase blood flow in certain areas of the brain,
which constitutes a potential avenue for the treatment of
vascular conditions in older people, notably vascular dementia
and cerebral vascular accidents.
Good for diabetics too!
And the effects of flavenols in cocoa do not stop there. Studies
show that they are also capable of significantly reducing blood
pressure in hypertense diabetics. The reason for this being that
the flavenols in cocoa improve the synthesis of nitrous monoxide
by the blood vessels, which increases blood flow. In other words
there is a dilation of the arteries and pressure is reduced
These results seem to indicate that flavenols in cocoa are
beneficial in the treatment of serious vascular complications
associated with long-term diabetes. This is astonishing for a
foodstuff which people suffering this condition have long been
banned from eating
But the studies do not say that you have to gorge yourself on
chocolate. On the one hand, the effects are mainly attributed to
the consumption of dark chocolate, which is generally less
popular and on the other hand, chocolate is rich in fats and
sugars and therefore in calories. Like red wine, it should be
consumed in moderation!
Nicolas Rousseau, nutritionist dietician