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Healthy Heart Reports

Chocolate And The Heart

Just in time for Valentine's Day, a report published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association says that chocolate is good for your heart. Researchers at the University of California at Davis reviewed a number of recent studies on chocolate and its health benefits. They found that flavan-3-ols, the main flavonoids found in cocoa, are associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. The article goes on to say that cocoa contains the same nutrients found in other plant foods, including minerals and specific antioxidants that help ward off diseases such as heart disease. In addition, oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil, makes up one-third of the fat in chocolate and has been shown to be beneficial for heart health.

Europeans living in the 17th century also believed in chocolate's healing powers. They said it "comforted the liver, aided in digestion and made one happy and strong." Chocolate was used for stimulating the kidneys and treating anemia, tuberculosis, fever and gout; and was reported to strengthen the heart and relieve heart pain.

It is true that the cocoa bean contains flavonoids that are potent antioxidants, but chocolate is a bitter tasting bean. You have to add sugar and fat to make it taste good, and the fats and sugars that are added to chocolate certainly can take away any benefits that you gain from eating the chocolate. You can give your sweetheart chocolate for Valentine's day, but if you tell him or her that you're preventing heart attacks by doing, so you are lying.

The Journal of the American Dietetic Association, February 2003


Copyright 2003
Dr. Mirkin's opinions and the references cited are for information only, and are not intended to diagnose or prescribe. For your specific diagnosis and treatment, consult your doctor or health care provider.

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