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Do you (heart) chocolate? Evaluating the cocoa "prescription" for cardiac health


I just stocked my desk with some emergency rations - mainly whole grain snack bars with dark chocolate bits. My brain thanks me every time I tear into one. Now I'm also hoping what I've just learned about chocolate helping the heart proves true.

You may have missed Lisa Parikh, MD's, recent review of the trade-offs inherent in prescribing chocolate for heart health on Clinical Correlations: The research shows dark chocolate provides nearly four times the antioxidants as black tea. According to the studies Parikh reviews, those compounds may help your blood pressure and coronary arteries.

Don't take this evidence as a free license to over-indulge, though. The blood pressure benefits didn't improve much beyond a daily dose of 6 grams (a tad more than a single Hershey's Kiss). And Parikh says, on balance, the research record is a long way from proving the overall health effects:

When my patient returns, I will tell him that although it seems like chocolate may be good for you, there is not enough data out for me to wholeheartedly recommend it. Like so many good things in life, chocolate should be used in moderation.

Previously: High-quality chocolate linked to lower risk of heart failure and Chocolate: not the feel-good food we thought?
Photo by John Loo

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