Sunday, April 29, 2007

It’s Monday. Eat Chocolate!

There’s a reason we reach for chocolate when we’re stressed. It tastes good, it lifts the mood. Now, as it turns out, dark chocolate may lower blood pressure almost as well as medication does, according to an analysis of five studies, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine on April 9 of this year.

In four of the five two-week studies, participants’ systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure dropped to averages that “would be expected to substantially reduce the risk of stroke (by about 20 percent), coronary heart disease (by 10 percent) and all-cause mortality (by 8 percent),” the authors wrote.

The benefit is attributed to procyanid, a type of polyphenol, or plant compound, found in cocoa. Alas, milk chocolate won’t do the trick, because milk proteins block the absorption of polyphenols

How much do you have to eat to get the benefit? Three and a half ounces of dark chocolate a day. That’s 100 grams, the size of a hefty bar of Green & Black’s. That’s also 500 calories, more or less.

Gaining a lot of weight, of course, would negate cardiovascular gains. While stopping short of recommending that those of us with hypertension substitute chocolate for medication, the researchers say we might try to consume it instead of other high-calorie desserts. Good idea!

In addition to our health, we can do some good for the environment and labor by dosing ourselves with dark delights from the following companies, whose candies are certified organic and fairly traded. Green & Black’s, at Certified shade-grown by the Rainforest Alliance (preserves rainforest canopies and habitat) Plantations Arriba, Just fairly traded
Enjoy eight days a week.

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1 comment:

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