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Cocoa consumption linked with reduction in heart disease, stroke - Ogden Clinic provided source, Standard-Examiner 02/25/2014

(Standard-Examiner) OGDEN – Five Eating chocolate may cut the risk of heart disease and stroke by about one-third, but moderation is key.

Jessica Wozab, a physician assistant at Ogden Clinic, said multiple studies show that chocolate does have beneficial effects on the heart, insulin and cholesterol levels, specifically LDL or bad cholesterol in the body.

The darker the chocolate, the healthier it is.

Cocoa beans contain a potent class of antioxidants called flavonoids. The ingredient has been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the brain and heart, and make blood platelets less sticky and able to clot, said Ogden Clinic’s Dr. Chris Hammond. Also suggested are anti-inflammatory effects by polyphenols in the chocolate, benefiting the cardiovascular system in general.

“Cocoa consumption has been associated with reduction in heart disease and stroke in a few population studies,” Hammond said. “One study showed that cocoa consumption was associated with a decrease in blood pressure and overall cardiovascular mortality, consistent with one study revealing heart attack risk reached a 77 percent decrease.”

Wobaz said other studies suggest small amounts of the same flavonoid will lower fasting glucose rates by increasing the function of the beta cell, which makes insulin.

“In most studies, people were consuming up to 100 grams or a large chocolate bar per day. I would suggest, maintain a healthy 2000-calorie diet per day, including eating fruits and vegetables as well as exercise,” she said. “If you need to have something sweet and are choosing chocolate, I would suggest one to two squares of dark chocolate, no more then three or four times per week.”

In addition, Hammond said, one other study showed that the more chocolate consumed, the lower the stroke risk. For every 1.8 ounces increase in chocolate consumption per week, participants’ overall stroke risk dropped 14 percent. Other observational studies were with subjects eating chocolate three times a day, reaching nearly 1 ounce a day.

So grab that Dove bar and enjoy. Just watch for added sugar and fat, which may outweigh the cardiovascular benefits.