A new study from the US has a treat for chocolate lovers. It has found that chocolate helps your heart stay healthy.
But there’s a catch. It only helps if you have it once a week.
Chocolate has several nutrients that have been declared cardioprotective. These include flavanols, methylxanthines, polyphenols and stearic acid. In simpler terms, they are antioxidants which are great for the heart and immune system.
Flavanols can reduce the size of dead tissue after a heart attack, prevent clots from forming and help blood vessels function better by improving blood flow.
Methylxanthines help the heart work better. Polyphenols facilitate nitric oxide synthesis which strengthens the walls of blood vessels and the muscles of the heart.
Stearic acid reduces mean platelet volume, which will in turn reduce the size of the clot in the heart’s blood vessels.
“Overall, the benefits of nutrients in chocolate appear promising and chocolate consumption at least once a week may be beneficial for CAD (coronary artery disease) prevention,” said the authors of the study.
CAD is a disease where the blood vessels supplying oxygen to the heart are damaged. This causes heart cells to die which can even prove to be fatal.
But how much chocolate should you eat for it to be beneficial?
“Moderate amounts of chocolate seem to protect the coronary arteries but it’s likely that large quantities do not,” said lead author Dr Chayakrit Krittanawong.
The researchers based their results on an analysis of six studies of more than 333,000 people who were followed for around nine years.
Those who consumed chocolate once a week were eight percent less likely to develop coronary artery disease than the participants who had no chocolate or not as often as once a week.
However, the authors have warned that calories, sugar, milk, and fat in commercially produced chocolate can cancel out the benefits for the heart.
Their solution is: “Dark chocolate consumption at least once a week (as a substitute for sugared candy) with overall caloric intake tracking is probably safe.”