The Sweet Truth About ChocolateJan Cullinane
Besides making you happy, dark chocolate can help make you healthy
Posted May 13, 2011
What’s been around for 2,000 years, is nicknamed “the food of the gods,” and helps our aging minds and bodies stave off some of the consequences of growing older? Dark chocolate. Let’s look at some of the research:
• Older adults (between 70 and 74) who ate chocolate performed better on cognitive tests that those who do not eat chocolate. (Journal of Nutrition).
• A small piece of dark chocolate/day (about 30 calories) can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by several points. Participants in this study were between 56 and 73. (Journal of the American Medical Association).
• One or two squares of dark chocolate almost halved the risk of heart attack in some men and women (study participants ranged from 21 to 80). (Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine).
• A square of dark chocolate two or three times a week reduced inflammatory C-reactive protein by 17% (Journal of Nutrition).
• A compound called epicatechin in dark chocolate can help protect the brain from having a stroke and reduce the damage from a stroke (Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism).
Dark chocolate works because it contains substances that reduce blood clotting, relax blood vessels, increase blood flow, inhibit an enzyme that raises blood pressure, and activates pathways in the brain that protect nerve damage. Best kind of dark chocolate? One with 70% or more cocoa content. How much? A square or two a day. In the immortal words of Jackie Gleason, “How sweet it is!”
Jan Cullinane is the co-author (along with Cathy Fitzgerald) of the best-selling book, The New Retirement: The Ultimate Guide to the Rest of Your Life (Rodale). She has appeared on TV both nationally and locally, has conducted more than 60 radio, Internet, and television interviews, and has written or been interviewed for numerous newspaper and magazine articles. Jan has a B.S. and M.Ed. from the University of Maryland. Her website is TheNewRetirement.net.