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Ask the doctor: Can dark chocolate boost heart health?

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Dark chocolate contains powerful antioxidants that can help lower your blood pressure.

Q. I am a fan of dark chocolate. Is it true that it ,s good for your heart?

A. Most people love chocolate, and I’m one of them. I have ice cream only occasionally, but recently a friend suggested I try a new ice cream store in the neighborhood. They had six different types of chocolate ice cream, and I immediately chose the one that sounded the best: “Death By Chocolate.” It was so delicious I said to my wife, “What a way to go!” However, I’m still around.

Chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, contains antioxidant chemicals called flavonols. These help lower blood pressure and probably fight plaques of atherosclerosis. There’s some (weak) evidence that they may also protect the aging brain. So far, so good: something delicious may be heart-healthy.

Now the not-so-good part. Some research suggests that eating lots of chocolate may raise a person’s risk for kidney stones and heartburn. More important, the way we eat chocolate is almost always mixed with lots of saturated fat and sugar—like my ice cream cone. I understand that some candy manufacturers are working on forms of chocolate candy that will be relatively low in saturated fat and sugar, and still tasty. A lot of us will be waiting to see what comes of this. 

—Anthony L. Komaroff, M.D.
Editor in Chief
Harvard Health Letter

Posted by: Dr.Health

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