It’s Valentine’s Day, and chocolate is on the minds of many! Whether you’re eating it, buying it or both, here’s some information you may want to know.
Dark chocolate has some benefits over milk chocolate or white chocolate. These benefits are thought to come from the flavonoids it contains. Flavonoids are naturally occurring antioxidants that can also be found in teas, red wine and some fruits and vegetables. Antioxidants help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals formed in the body, and from environmental contaminants.
Flavonoids have been associated with a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system.
In addition to the antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease,
flavonoids also help to lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.
There is one thing to note. While dark chocolate is high in flavonoids, it also contains calories and fat, so a little goes a long way! One square of dark chocolate (about 50 calories), containing at least 60% cacao or cocoa, should be beneficial.
There are other ways to get heart-healthy flavonoids into your diet as well. In addition to dark chocolate, berries (blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries and cherries); tree fruits including apples, pears, plums, peaches and apricots; nuts and beans (black beans, kidney beans, and soybeans); vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, onions kale, broccoli, snap beans and okra); and some spices (dill, parsley, thyme, basil, cayenne, coriander, chamomile, peppermint and anise) are high in flavonoids too.
Take care and God bless,
Dayo Wilson Lanier, M.D.