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HEART HEALTH

'Sweet' New Way to Prevent Heart Disease

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Preventing heart disease never sounded so sweet.

According to a new study published in the British Medical Journal in late August, people who ate more chocolate reduced their risk of heart disease by 37 percent their risk for stroke by 29 percent.

Eating chocolate clearly reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease, but this should come as no surprise. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, and the less it is processed, the greater the health benefits to the human body. When selecting chocolate to eat, the less fat content and the more cocoa, the better. Dark chocolate is a palatable way to get your daily fix. Eating about 150 calories worth of chocolate each day, at 60-percent or higher cocoa content, should be part of a heart-healthy dietary plan for many at-risk patients.

Consumption of dark chocolate lowers your bad cholesterol and blood pressure, and also protects your blood vessels. It raises good cholesterol and may even increase cognitive function by increasing blood flow to the brain. This commonly available candy also reduces the risk of stroke and heart disease.

Chocolate, like meditation and walking, increases the feel-good compound nitric oxide in the bloodstream. The production of nitric oxide can help with sexual dysfunction in males. Cocoa consumption can even help guard against the damaging effects of sun exposure.

In a challenging financial climate where medical and pharmaceutical costs are skyrocketing, we finally have a sweet answer to several cardiovascular threats: Daily chocolate consumption.
Look out Lipitor – we have a better over-the-counter product that is cheaper, safer and widely available to adults and children alike.

Dr. Robert J. Tozzi is Chief of Pediatric Cardiology and the Founding Medical Director of The Gregory M. Hirsch Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center at the Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. He is the co-author of several papers published in refereed research journals, and he has lectured extensively in his field at numerous professional conferences. To learn more, visit his website at DRTOZ.com.