I've written about how chocolate can help you lose weight. The reason is that cocoa, the primary ingredient in chocolate, can stimulate thermogenesis (fat burning), suppress appetite, and boost your sense of well-being.
Now, researchers at Cambridge University have uncovered more good news—that chocolate can reduce coronary heart disease risk factors by one-third.
The Cambridge researchers analyzed the results of seven studies involving more than 100,000 participants. What they found is that people who ate the most chocolate reduced their coronary heart disease risk factors by 37 percent and decreased stroke risk by 29 percent, compared to those who ate the least amount of chocolate.
How Chocolate Reduces Risk of Coronary Artery Disease
The researchers believe the reason is that the high polyphenol content of cocoa increases the bioavailability of nitric oxide, which relaxes the arteries and promotes normal blood pressure, thus reducing coronary heart disease risk factors. Plus, it likely improves endothelial function in your arteries.
You can add this good news to the mounting evidence that moderate intake of cocoa and dark chocolate is linked to improved cognitive functioning, mood, blood pressure, and insulin sensitivity—along with the reduced risk of diabetes, nerve injury, and UV radiation damage.
What’s the best way to eat chocolate? Look for high-quality chocolate bars that contain 70 percent cocoa or more. Unsweetened dark chocolate is extremely bitter, and even sweetened it can be an acquired taste. Because of its fat and sugar content, dark chocolate is quite calorie dense, so don’t go overboard—and eat it in place of, rather than in addition to, other foods or snacks.
Now it’s your turn: What steps do you take to reduce your coronary heart disease risk factors?