Chocoholics have a great reason to celebrate. A new study published at BMJ.com and presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Paris found that eating chocolates can provide the health benefit of lowering the risk of heart disease. If you adore these luscious sweet treats, you'll be delighted to know that eating chocolates regularly can actually lower the risk of heart disease by 37 percent.
As you probably know, heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than a quarter of adult deaths every year is due to heart-related ailments. Doctors never get tired of advising people to lower that risk by undertaking lifestyle changes that would veer you towards exercise, towards low-fat high-fiber diet, and away from bad habits like smoking.
This new study, which evaluated seven previous studies, involved over 100,000 people. The research team led by Dr. Oscar Franco of University of Cambridge examined observational studies that focused on the link between consumption of chocolates and cardiovascular events.
• Antioxidant, Anti-Inflammatory
Five out of seven studies were positive that eating chocolates lowered heart disease by 37 percent while reducing risk of stroke by 29 percent. The reason behind this is not yet clear but the studies attributed the benefits of chocolate to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of this sweet treat. These properties help in maintaining proper levels of blood pressure as well as improving resistance to insulin.
This is definitely a good news for people who love chocolates. But it's very important to remember that chocolate can also be detrimental to heart health, that is if it is consumed excessively. If you eat lots of chocolates, you'll gain weight. Excessive weight gain, as you know, contributes to heart diseases. That is why, experts emphasize the word, "moderation".
In order to enjoy the health benefit of chocolates, you need to control the amount that you take in. Two to three standard size chocolate bars in one week won't harm your health. Also, it would be best to go for dark chocolate, which has higher amount of antioxidants and lower calories than the white and milk varieties.
• Healthy Lifestyle
Another thing chocolate lovers should remember is that eating this sweet treat cannot replace the key components of a heart-healthy lifestyle, which include exercise, proper diet, stress management, and elimination of unhealthy habits.
You need to set aside at least 30 minutes of your day to engage in physical activities such as walking, jogging, biking or dancing. If you can go to the gym then good, but if not, doing physical activities at home or around the neighborhood would also be beneficial for your health.
Eat a healthy diet that is low in fat and cholesterol but high in nutrients and fiber. Fiber does wonders for sweeping away harmful toxins inside the body. It also helps in circulation and digestive processes.
Learn to manage your stress efficiently. Stress is a major contributor of heart disease. Practice relaxation techniques such as yoga, breathing exercises, and meditation. Get a massage whenever you have the chance.
On top of that, stop smoking.