A recent study, published just in time for Valentine’s Day, states that dark chocolate is the “heart-healthy” way to go, not only on Valentine’s day, but all year long.

Dr. Gary Kaplan, director of the Kaplan Center for Integrative Medicine, says:

“The research is clear: dark chocolate is chock-full of antioxidants that fight dangerous ‘free radicals’ in your body, and it also provides significant protection against cardiovascular disease.”

Free radicals are defined as impaired atoms – they are missing electrons. The free radicals can interrupt the correct way in which a cell membrane or DNA works, and therefore gives things such as cancer, aging, and other diseases a chance to work their way in. The most common way the body collects antioxidants is through eating, and the antioxidants which exist in dark chocolate help rid the body of the unwanted free radicals.

Valentines Day Chocolates from 2005
Go for the dark chocolates for a healthier Valentine’s Day

Dr. Kaplan comments:

“The research is quite astounding – the cocoa in dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than what we find in fruits and vegetables! And in terms of heart health, there’s even more good news. Dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure as much as engaging in regular, moderate exercise, which translates into a 20% decrease risk of cardiovascular disease over a period of 5 years. In addition, it increases the elasticity of the blood vessels, it decreases plaque formation in the blood vessels, it reduces inflammation in your body, and it lowers LDL (low-density lipoprotein or ‘bad’) cholesterol.”

Dr. Kaplan explains some key points to remember before diving into the candy:

  • The higher percentage of cocoa in the chocolate, the better for your health it is. Stick to 70% cocoa or higher.
  • Other kinds of chocolate, such as white chocolate and milk chocolate do not produce the same kind of health benefits, only dark chocolate does.
  • Although health benefits have been proven from eating dark chocolate, it is still better not to exceed 1.5-3.5 ounces a day, and to also make sure you are eating a well-balanced diet, for example, plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Don’t eat chocolate before bed – it contains caffeine, which will hurt your sleeping habits, and therefore impair your health.
  • Remember, chocolate is packed with calories, it is important to exercise when consuming chocolate in order to keep your current weight.

Until now, many people thought chocolate had bad effects on the body, for example, many believe eating chocolate produces acne. However, it is known now that the benefits of eating dark chocolate surely outweigh the bad.

Written By Christine Kearney