Michael Hunter, MD on Medika Life

Three Heart Benefits of Dark Chocolate

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.” ― Charles M. Schulz

DARK CHOCOLATE IS CHOCK FULL OF MINERALS, including zinc, iron, and magnesium. The cocoa in my beloved dark chocolate has antioxidants (flavonoids) that may enhance your health.

Do you eat chocolate? I avoid commercial milk chocolate with its milk, sugar, cocoa butter, and small volumes of cacao. My preferred chocolate form, dark chocolate, has much more cacao and less sugar than its milk chocolate counterpart.

Let’s explore some of the potential cardiovascular upsides of consuming dark chocolate. We’ll look at some nutritional information and how much dark chocolate you should eat (and no, the answer is not all of it).

Chocolate and blood pressure

Regular consumption of dark chocolate may lower your chances of suffering from cardiovascular disease. For example, regularly eating dark chocolate can lower your blood pressure.

Photo by Cassi Josh on Unsplash

How does dark chocolate work its magic to lower blood pressure? Dark chocolate contains flavonoids, a substance that can stimulate nitric oxide production in your body.

The upside of this nitric oxide production? Nitric oxide results in widening blood vessels, which translates to better blood flow and lower blood pressure.

Here are the results of a small study from Iran looking at the effects of eating dark chocolate on 60 subjects with high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

Those who consumed 25 grams of dark chocolate daily for eight weeks had significantly lower blood pressure than individuals who ate the same amount of white chocolate.

Chocolate and cholesterol

“Your hand and your mouth agreed many years ago that, as far as chocolate is concerned, there is no need to involve your brain.”
― Dave Barry

Other compounds in dark chocolate target cholesterol; polyphenols and theobromine can lower “bad” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and increase “good” high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.

Here’s some evidence: A 2017 clinical trial discovered that adding almonds, cocoa, and dark chocolate to the usual American diet (taking care not to exceed recommended daily calorie totals) improves lipid profiles.

The study authors volunteer that putting almonds, dark chocolate, and cocoa into your diet (without exceeding energy needs) may drop your heart disease risk. Together, almonds and dark chocolate lowered the number of small LDL particles.

Thank you for joining me today.

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Michael Hunter, MD
I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

Michael Hunter, MD

I received an undergraduate degree from Harvard, a medical degree from Yale, and trained in radiation oncology at the University of Pennsylvania. I practice radiation oncology in the Seattle area.

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