In December 2004, The British Medical Journal published a fascinating article concerning what researchers called the “Polymeal,” an ideal meal, that, if consumed daily, would significantly reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease. After a significant amount of research, they came up with a theoretical meal that would reduce cardiovascular disease by 75% — not a pill in the world can achieve that! The ingredients of this Polymeal? Wine, fish, nuts, fruits, vegetables and chocolate!

Cocoa is loaded with compounds called flavonoids (also found in cranberries, apples, strawberries, onions, tea and red wine.) The particular class of flavonoids in cocoa are called flavanols, and flavanols prevent fat-like substances in the bloodstream from clogging the arteries.

Anytime you reduce the blood’s ability to clot, you reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. As an extra bonus, cocoa contains magnesium, a very important mineral for heart health. Flavanols also modulate a compound called nitric acid which is critical for healthy blood flow and healthy blood pressure.

In another study in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it was reported that dark chocolate not only decreased blood pressure, but also improved insulin sensitivity in healthy people. But eating the right kind of chocolate is key. Health benefits from chocolate come from real cocoa, not the processed variety in commercial candy bars. So if you want the health benefits of flavonols, you need high cocoa content (at least 60-70%.) Put the facts together, and fine dark chocolate is ideal.

If chocolate triggers addictive eating for you, then stay away from it. However, if you can control your intake, and don’t have any medical condition that would prevent you from enjoying it, go ahead and have a small amount of dark chocolate. Renowned cardiologist, Dr Steve Sinatra, has gone on record as saying that even cardiac patients can enjoy dark chocolate regularly, in moderation — if they are not sensitive to caffeine.

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