Please pass the chocolate (revised).
Dark chocolate, derived from cocoa beans, is loaded with heart-healthy polyphenols and flavonoids. According to the Australian Diabetes Obesity and Lifestyle study, these components decrease inflammation, blood clotting, and stabilize blood sugar. Flavonoids stimulate nitric acid, which dilates blood vessels and lowers blood pressure. Additional clinical studies show that dark chocolate lowers total and low density (LDL) cholesterol levels (the “bad” cholesterol), provides satiety, and increases HDL, (the “good” cholesterol). However, milk or white chocolate don’t provide this benefit. Blood pressure and total cholesterol lowering effects of dark chocolate may be a non-drug treatment option for people with high LDL and total cholesterol, either alone or in combination modified diet and prescription medicines. However, benefits of dark chocolate on blood pressure and cholesterol are not as effective as prescription medicine.
The take home message: chocolate could be a cost effective method for preventing cardiovascular disease in people with borderline diabetes (metabolic syndrome). Chocolate may be a pleasant and potential treatment option for people with elevated blood lipids and high blood pressure. Pay attention to the labeling. Look for sugar and corn starch levels, which add more calories. Chocolate should be dark, at least sixty to seventy percent cocoa, or enriched with polyphenols. Get your doctor’s opinion before you “go chocolate.” Don’t cut back on or eliminate fruits, vegetables, and fish. Most people's diets have plenty of sweets.
Source: Medscape: Journal of the American Medical Association; Aug. 27, 2011; The Australian Diabetes and Lifestyle Study; Diabetes and Clinical Practice, Vol. 57, issue 2, Aug. 2002.
Quote: "My therapist told me the way to achieve true inner peace is to finish what I start. So far today, I have finished 2 bags of M&M's and a chocolate cake. I feel better already." - Dave Barry