Your Heart and Dark Chocolate
Is it coincidence that the month of February is assigned Heart Health Month, being that Valentine’s Day is smack dab in the middle of it? Heart Day, as some have come to call it over the years, is the date our attention is drawn to the center of our being; not just emotionally, but physically. How we manage our heart health is a subject many haven’t even put on their radar until something goes wrong with the “pump” of our body.
“I take care of my heart”, you may be saying to yourself, “we talk about it all the time.”
We watch our fat intake, as fat is an enemy of the heart. We know it can build up in the cardiac cavity and add pressure to the heart. So changing the little missteps in our lifestyle would be a good start. Like skipping that doughnut in the breakroom! Or, we might take a walk around the office on our lunch break, just stretching our legs. But along with raising our heartrate and the strength it provides, it’s important to remember that the legs are actually the “second heart” of the body, assisting the main pump in returning circulation to the upper regions.
However, there is another way to enjoy taking care of this vital organ: Chocolate! The benefits of high percentage dark chocolate have been circulating in the media of late. It’s now a fact that eating dark chocolate (more than 85 percent cacao) rich in compounds known as Polyphenols has assisted those with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). As published in the Journal of the American Heart Association(1), an Italian study showed people with PAD who ate 40 g (1.5 oz.) of dark chocolate a day were able to walk 11 percent farther, and for 15 percent longer than those who ate the same amount of milk chocolate. As well, researchers looked at markers of oxidative stress in the blood and found improvement in those who ate dark chocolate. As if that isn’t enough, with consistent use, our tempting medicinal treat is also linked to significantly lowered blood pressure, lowered risk of both stroke and the effects of stress. Along with all of this evidence, statistics are showing the list of additional benefits is impressive (see 2 below).
Where to Buy
Where can we find the quality chocolate that will sweetly deliver these wonderful benefits? Why, our local shops and grocery stores are all taking part in supporting this new demand. Dark chocolate is nearly everywhere. Just be sure to read the label and choose those stating at least 85 percent pure cacao. The chocolate we grew up with and still fills the checkout stands is actually mostly sugar and lesser quality portions of the cacao bean. It may be worth it to spend a bit more on the dark chocolate now and possibly defend against the need of expensive heart medications in the future.
Though we know how we must exercise to strengthen the heart, we may feel stressed on how to fit working out into our lives. Simply this: just don’t dismiss the opportunities that are with us each day. Start by walking to the opposite side of the building, taking the stairs, or standing up and doing a full-body stretch. These all contribute to quickening our heart rate, and releasing tension in our muscles, allowing for better circulation.
So let’s take care of our heart, and that way we’ll be able to give it (and a box of dark chocolates), to those we love.
Disclaimer: As with any natural substance there are precautions to take. So if you are allergic to cocoa or chocolate, this may not be for you.
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