High cholesterol and high blood pressure are precursors of serious health problems, ranging from heart disease to strokes. While one clogs up your arteries and the other makes them elastic, they can be both aided by chocolate. Doctor Michael Mosley explains that a certain type of this sweet treat could bring your cholesterol and hypertension levels back from the red zone.
Characterized by its rich yet sweet taste, chocolate is a beloved treat enjoyed by many.
While you might want to indulge in milk squares packed with your favorite filling, this type won’t do much for your cardiovascular health.
However, the dark stuff could see your levels of high cholesterol and blood pressure fall, according to Doctor Mosley.
The doctor penned for Daily Mail: “I have a seriously sweet tooth and the only way I can avoid unrestrained eating is to make sure there are no treats — and certainly no milk chocolate — in the house.
“But I often allow myself the late-afternoon (or post-dinner-time) luxury of a couple of small squares of dark chocolate.
“It helps satisfy my cravings for something sweet, while at the same time offering potential health benefits, such as lowering my blood pressure, improving blood flow, insulin and cholesterol levels and even boosting my brain.”
The reason why dark chocolate is so potent comes down to its high flavanol content – plant compounds tied to health benefits.
While these goodies are taken out of white and milk chocolate during the manufacturing process to ensure less bitter taste, dark chocolate still contains these compounds.
What’s more, there’s also research that backs Doctor Mosley’s word. HAS studypublished in the journal BMC Medicine, reviewed different randomized controlled trials that looked at chocolate’s main ingredient – cocoa.
Settling on fifteen trials that met their criteria, the researchers found that the food offered a “significant blood pressure reducing effect”.
However, the team also noticed that only the participants with hypertension or prehypertension were able to reap this benefit.
Researchpublished in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that pairing dark chocolate with almonds slashed high levels of cholesterol in four weeks.
Looking at 48 overweight and obese individuals, the researchers noticed that almonds on their own lowered bad cholesterol by seven percent.
Furthermore, pairing the crunchy food with dark chocolate also helped to reduce the fatty culprit.
Doctor Mosley spoke to expert Professor Aedin Cassidy, of Queen’s University Belfast, to get to the root of dark chocolate’s powers.
He said: “Chocolate expert Professor Cassidy believes that the flavanols in dark chocolate can also ‘feed’ the ‘good’ bacteria that live in our gut.”
Ms Cassidy said: “When you eat dark chocolate, the flavanols reach all the way to the large intestine before being metabolised.
“There, gut bacteria munch them up and convert them into special compounds which then travel to the heart and brain and boost cerebral blood flow, which aids learning and memory.”
The chocolate expert recommended opting for a dark chocolate with around 50 percent of cocoa solids to enjoy the effect.
“This is a compromise between very high cocoa solids (which can be very bitter) and low cocoa solids (which might be calorific and too tempting to indulge in),” Doctor Mosley added.