Nutrition

Dark chocolate: a great natural anti-inflammatory and cardioprotector

It is increasingly well established that dark chocolate has several beneficial effects on health, in particular for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Recent results suggest that this protective effect would be linked at least in part to the anti-inflammatory action of antioxidant polyphenols contained in chocolate.

Cocoa beans are an exceptional source of polyphenols, a class of molecules with extraordinary antioxidant potential. For example, cocoa has twice the antioxidant activity of red wine and up to 5 times greater than green tea!

This antioxidant activity plays an important role because it neutralizes “free radicals”, very reactive molecules that can cause considerable damage to our cells and thus support the progression of various diseases, including cardiovascular diseases.

Dark chocolate protects the heart

Many studies have shown that dark chocolate could participate in the prevention of these diseases by acting on at least three phenomena.

Lower blood pressure:

Studies show that the consumption of dark chocolate rich in flavonoids significantly reduces blood pressure, especially in people with hypertension. This reduction is due to the property of chocolate flavonoids to increase the production of nitrous oxide, a molecule that stimulates the dilation of the arteries.

Decreased aggregation of blood platelets:

A very large number of studies have shown that chocolate flavonoids reduce platelet aggregation.

Under normal conditions, platelets are cells that play a very important role in the formation of clots necessary for blood clotting.

However, it sometimes happens that the platelets aggregate on the surface of blood vessels damaged by various aggressions (cigarette smoke, free radicals, hypertension, etc.), which leads to the formation of clots which can obstruct the vessels and prevent them adequately transport oxygen to the organs.

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There is then a high risk of myocardial infarction and stroke. The decrease in the aggregation of platelets by chocolate would therefore reduce the formation of these clots and thus reduce the risk of being affected by these fatal cardiovascular diseases.

Chocolate: a super natural anti-inflammatory

Inflammation plays a key role in the development of cardiovascular disease. Recent studies have suggested that chocolate polyphenols decrease inflammation by blocking the recruitment of inflammatory cells to the surface of blood vessels, which reduces clot formation and inhibits the development of atherosclerotic plaques.

A study carried out on an Italian population has just confirmed the anti-inflammatory effect associated with the regular consumption of dark chocolate.

In this study, the researchers looked at the eating habits of more than 2,000 people and at the same time measured the amount of C-reactive protein – a well-established marker of the level of inflammation in the body – in the blood of these people. They observed that individuals who regularly consumed dark chocolate (up to 20 g per day) had lower blood levels of this C-reactive protein than those who never consumed it, indicating an anti-inflammatory impact of dark chocolate. .

Only dark chocolate and no more than 20G/day

All of these observations indicate that the regular consumption of chocolate has an extremely positive impact on the risk of being affected by cardiovascular disease.

This positive effect is only observed for dark chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa mass, and therefore one should take a look at the percentage indicated on the packaging. For example, the industrial chocolates in our grocery stores have a very low cocoa content and these products have no positive impact on health! Fortunately, more and more high-quality 70% chocolates are now available, often at reasonable prices.

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The good sides of dark chocolate should not, however, make us forget that it is a food very rich in calories, which must be consumed in moderation, with a maximum of approximately

20 grams per day.

source:

DiGiuseppe et al. J. Nutrition 2008; 138: 1939-1945.

[HighProtein-Foods.com]

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