Chocolate: Good for Your Heart and Your Brain

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Money may not grow on trees, but it turns out chocolate does.

Fox News’ Medicine Hunter, Chris Kilham, recently visited the New York Botanical Garden, where he explored the health benefits offered by cacao trees.

Cacao seeds, which are used to produce chocolate, are among the healthiest foods in the world, according to Kilham.

The seeds contain all sorts of beneficial compounds, including those that promote cardiovascular health.

“I take a little square of 85 percent dark chocolate every morning just to protect my cardiovascular system,” said Dr. Michael Balick, director and vice president of the Institute of Economic Botany.

Balick pointed to a Harvard University study that showed the Kuna people of Panama, who have among the highest cocoa consumption of any group in the world, also have very low rates of heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure.

In addition, chocolate can also improve a person’s mood by elevating serotonin levels in the brain.

The healthiest chocolate is the darkest kind, Balick said. He recommended sticking with chocolate that is at least 85 to 90 percent cocoa, rather than eating sugary milk chocolate.

All the benefits of cocoa essentially disappear after adding sugar and milk solids, he added.

So kick back and enjoy that square of dark chocolate. It’s good for your heart and your mind.