High cholesterol and high blood pressure are precursors to serious health problems, ranging from heart disease to stroke. While one clogs your arteries and the other makes them elastic, they can both be helped by chocolate. Dr. Michael Mosley explains that a certain type of this sugary treat could bring your cholesterol and high blood pressure levels back into the red zone.
Characterized by its rich yet sweet taste, chocolate is a treat enjoyed by many.
While you might want to indulge in milk squares filled with your favorite topping, this guy won’t do much for your cardiovascular health.
However, the dark stuff could see your cholesterol levels high and your blood pressure drop, according to Dr. Mosley.
The doctor wrote for Daily Mail: ‘I have a sweet tooth and the only way to avoid overeating is to make sure there are no sweets – and certainly no milk chocolate – in the House.
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“But I often allow myself the luxury at the end of the afternoon (or after dinner) of a few small squares of dark chocolate.
“It helps satisfy my cravings for something sweet, while also offering potential health benefits, such as lowering my blood pressure, improving blood circulation, insulin and cholesterol levels, and even boosting my brain. “
The reason dark chocolate is so powerful comes down to its high content of flavonols – plant compounds linked to health benefits.
While these treats are removed from white and milk chocolate during the manufacturing process to ensure a less bitter taste, dark chocolate still contains these compounds.
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Moreover, there is also research that supports Dr. Mosley’s word. A study, published in the journal BMC Medicine, reviewed different randomized controlled trials of the main ingredient in chocolate, cocoa.
Based on fifteen trials that met their criteria, the researchers found that the food offered a “significant blood pressure lowering effect”.
However, the team also noticed that only participants with hypertension or prehypertension could experience this benefit.
The research, published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, found that combining dark chocolate with almonds reduced high cholesterol levels within four weeks.
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In examining 48 overweight and obese people, researchers found that almonds alone lowered bad cholesterol by 7%.
Plus, pairing the crunchy foods with dark chocolate also helped reduce the fat culprit.
Dr Mosley spoke to expert Professor Aedin Cassidy, from Queen’s University Belfast, to uncover the root of dark chocolate’s powers.
He said: “Chocolate expert Professor Cassidy believes 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 the large intestine before being metabolised.
“There, gut bacteria nibble on them and convert them into special compounds that then travel to the heart and brain and stimulate cerebral blood flow, which aids in learning and memory.”
The chocolate expert recommended opting for dark chocolate with around 50% cocoa solids to enjoy the effect.
“It’s a compromise between very high cocoa solids (which can be very bitter) and low cocoa solids (which can be calorie-dense and too tempting to indulge in),” Dr. Mosley added. .
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