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Dark Chocolate Leads Your Way To A Healthy Heart

Olive oil-enriched chocolate was associated with significantly increased high-density lipoprotein or "good" cholesterol and decreased blood pressure compared to baseline. Here's the report.

Dark Chocolate Leads Your Way To A Healthy Heart

Eating dark chocolate can keep your cholesterol in control.

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Eating dark chocolate can keep your cholesterol in control
  2. Dark chocolate preserves the 'repairing cells' to maintain blood vessels
  3. Dark chocolate can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease
Dark chocolate enriched with extra virgin olive oil may improve your heart health by increasing good cholesterol levels and preserving the 'repairing cells' critical for maintaining blood vessels, a study has found. "A healthy diet is known to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease," said Rossella Di Stefano, a cardiologist at the University of Pisa in Italy. "Fruits and vegetables exert their protective effects through plant polyphenols, which are found in cocoa, olive oil, and apples," Di Stefano added. "Research has found that the Italian Panaia red apple has very high levels of polyphenols and antioxidants," he said.

The study tested whether consumption of dark chocolate enriched with extra virgin olive oil or Panaia red apple was linked to atherosclerosis - fat build-up in the artery walls - in healthy people who had cardiovascular risk factors. The study included 26 volunteers (14 men, 12 women) with at least three cardiovascular risk factors (dyslipidaemia, smoking, hypertension or family history of heart disease) who received 40 grammes of dark chocolate daily for 28 days.


For 14 consecutive days it contained 10 per cent extra virgin olive oil and for 14 consecutive days it contained 2.5 per cent Panaia red apple. The two types of chocolate were given in random order. Progression of atherosclerosis was assessed by metabolic changes, lipid profile, blood pressure and circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPC), which are critical for vascular repair and maintenance of the cells inside blood vessels.

Also Read: Dark chocolate lowers high blood pressure


Urine and blood samples were collected at baseline and after the intervention. Urine samples were analysed by proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy for endogenous metabolites.Circulating EPC levels were assessed with flow cytometry. Smoking status, body mass index, blood pressure, glycaemia and lipid profile were also monitored.


After 28 days, the researchers found that the chocolate enriched with olive oil was associated with significantly increased EPC levels compared to both baseline and after consumption of apple-enriched chocolate. Olive oil-enriched chocolate was associated with significantly increased high-density lipoprotein or "good" cholesterol and decreased blood pressure compared to baseline.

"We found that small daily portions of dark chocolate with added natural polyphenols from extra virgin olive oil was associated with an improved cardiovascular risk profile," said Di Stefano. "Our study suggests that extra virgin olive oil might be a good food additive to help preserve our 'repairing cells' the EPC," researchers said.

Among all the foods available, these top 5 heart friendly super foods should be a part of your diet:

1. Almonds


The nuts are among the richest source of protein, vitamin E, magnesium, and fiber.If you do not consume non-vegetarian then make sure you eat almonds. They can help you get a balanced intake and enhance energy levels in your body.

2. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are often grounded and taken in meals. They are also prepared as oil and even consumed as plain seeds. The oil especially has an ability to manage cholesterol levels. Further, it improves digestion, reduces sugar cravings, gives clear skin, fights cancer, balances hormones and promotes weight loss.

3. Cinnamon

Cinnamon has high health benefits and it is considered as one among very valuable spices. Some of the benefits involve better glucose metabolism, reduced cholesterol, and improved brain function. It also helps infighting urinary tract infections.

4. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin B-6, Vitamin C, Fiber, Potassium and Beta carotene. These have iron which helps in supporting a healthy immune system and also, these are rich source of magnesiumand they are considered to be anti-stress mineral. These even ward off cancer and also protectyou from aging effects.

5. Eggs

Eggs are rich in protein and also, they help in controlling cholesterol as well. Eggs also help in reducing risk for age based macular degeneration which leads to blindness in people. And antioxidant found in eggs called as lutein helps in protecting your skin from Ultra Violet damage.

With inputs from PTI

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