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Treats for the Heart

cartoon hands holding wine, a heart and chocolate

The cells in our bodies are continually subjected to damage through a process called oxidation. This can cause a host of problems for the heart, like prompting LDL (“bad”) cholesterol to form artery-clogging plaque. To resist the damage of oxidation, our bodies utilize compounds called antioxidants. Flavonoids are one specific class of antioxidants, which can be found in some of our favorite treats such as dark chocolate and red wine. Both contain a large amount of specific heart-healthy flavonoids called flavanols—researchers say this compound can lower blood pressure, prevent blood clots, and even improve blood flow[1]. Here’s what you should know:

Dark Chocolate: Antioxidant Powerhouse #1

Dark chocolate has been shown to help improve your health and lower the risk of heart disease; one study showed that cocoa and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity, polyphenols and flavanols than any other fruits tested, which included blueberries and acai berries[2].

A 100-gram bar of dark chocolate with 70–85% cocoa contains:

  • 11 grams of fiber
  • 67% of the RDI (Reference Daily Intake) for iron
  • 58% of the RDI for magnesium
  • 89% of the RDI for copper
  • 98% of the RDI for manganese
  • It also has plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium

Although, certain types of dark chocolate are highly processed, medical experts report that eating a few one-ounce servings of dark chocolate (at least 60 percent cocoa solids) each week could provide protection against heart disease[3].

Red Wine: Antioxidant Powerhouse #2

Like dark chocolate, red wine contains a large amount of protective antioxidants. The specific compound in red wine is a type of polyphenol called resveratrol—the resveratrol in red wine comes from the skin of grapes used to make wine. Because red wine is fermented with grape skins longer than white wine, red wine contains more resveratrol. In moderation, consuming red wine may help prevent coronary artery disease, the condition that leads to heart attacks[3]. According to Mayo Clinic, the healthy quantity for adults means:

·      Up to one drink a day for women of all ages.

·      Up to one drink a day for men older than age 65.

·      Up to two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger. The limit for men is higher because men generally weigh more than women and have more of the enzyme that metabolizes alcohol.

A drink is defined as:

·      12 ounces (355 milliliters) of beer

·      5 ounces (148 milliliters) of wine

·      1.5 ounces (44 milliliters) of 80-proof distilled spirits

Remember that too much of anything is not healthy, and to consume in moderation. If you’ve been prescribed medications to treat heart disease, be sure to discuss any dietary changes with your doctor and check out our discounts on both brand name and generic medicines.

[1] https://www.cochrane.org/CD008893/HTN_effect-cocoa-bloodpressure#:~:text=Epidemiological%20studies%20suggest%20that%20cocoa,and%20therefore%20blood%20pressure%20reduction

[2] https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate#TOC_TITLE_HDR_2

[3] https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/16774-heart-healthy-benefits-of-chocolate


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