If you spend anytime reviewing natural health news and research (or reading our work here on Natural Society), you already know the health benefits of chocolate are no joke. More and more we are learning that you don’t need to make excuses to indulge in high quality dark chocolate. As a matter of fact, just like you might indulge in honey to quell allergies or ginger to settle your stomach, you may want to add chocolate to your kitchen “medicine” cabinet for its heart-healthy benefits.
A new study from researchers with the Department of Neuroscience, Division of Human Nutrition at the University of Tor Vergata in Rome has revealed that eating dark chocolate can reduce the markers for heart disease and even reduce belly fat in a single week.
Published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmacological Sciences, “Effects of dark chocolate in a population of Normal Weight Obese women: a pilot study” looked at the effects of a 100 gram dark chocolate bar taken for one week in women who fit the study prerequisites.
The seeming misnomer of “normal weight obese (NOW) women” refers to women who may have a weight or BMI classified as normal but who have a higher body fat percentage—30% or more in most cases. It’s similar to the en-vogue label of being “skinny-fat”, where you may not weigh too much, but your body fat is excessive. NOW syndrome, as GreenMedInfo explains, is related to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality and is “associated with a 2.2 fold increased risk of cardiovascular mortality in women compared with those with low body fat.”
During the study, women aged 20 to 40 years old received 100 grams of dark chocolate with about 70% cocoa for 7 days. Blood lipid profiles, blood pressure, abdominal circumference, and biochemical parameters were measured throughout. The results? Good cholesterol (HDL) went up and bad cholesterol (LDL) webt down. Other cardiovascular disease markers including interleukin-1 receptor antagonistwas reduced and abdominal circumference decreased.
Showcasing just a couple dark chocolate health benefits, the researchers concluded:
“Our findings suggest that regular consumption of DC could be useful in maintaining a good atherogenic profile, due to the favorable effects on HDL cholesterol, lipoprotein ratios and inflammation markers.”
For you, this doesn’t mean extra chocolate syrup on your ice cream or a Snickers bar at the grocery store check-out. Instead, it means eating high quality, organic dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa could help reduce your risk of heart disease.