Here is one for the books…

  • Snuff your risk of heart disease by 37% and….
  • Torch your chance of stroke by 29%…
  • This heart healthy treat is 100% safe – no harmful drugs involved…

So, if you have ever wanted to vacuum the cholesterol out of your blood vessels and arteries to get the healthy, free-flowing cardiovascular system of a 20 year old, then this is the sweetest message you willl ever get.

The question I am here to answer is which of these treats has the ability to scare the risk of heart disease out of you?

The answer from our secret candy list is Milk Duds. But, the more specific answer is chocolate!

Chocoholics around the world are rejoicing!

The time to say, “I told you so!” has finally come!

That’s right, chocolate not only sends a rush of feel-good endorphins through our brains, but it fights heart disease and stroke.

For now, they are not exactly sure what it is about the smooth, creamy, aromatic brown bars and paper-wrapped bits known simply as “chocolate” that help thwart these life-threatening illnesses, but the experts are working on it.

Victoria Taylor is the Senior Heart Health Dietitian at the British Heart Foundation and she says, “Evidence does suggest chocolate might have some heart health benefits, but we need to find out why that might be.”

Well, in a moment, I will tell you exactly why.

But for starters, chocolate has been shown in trials and observational studies (which aren’t as conclusive as clinical studies because they are less controlled) that it can slash the risk of heart disease by a chilling 37%.

It gets even better…

In 5 out of 7 studies with over 114,000 volunteers, it was shown that the more cocoa content, the greater the reduction in risk of heart disease. Not only did the sweet, melt-in-your-mouth goodness chop heart disease by 37%, it also carved out a 29% reduction in the risk of stroke.

This was all compared to folks who ate the least amount of chocolate.

Down with sugar and saturated fats

Because chocolate is high in sugar, saturated fats and calories, you still need to be mindful of your intake or you could increase your risk of weight gain, diabetes and high blood pressure in your blood vessels.

That said, the shocking results discovered in what I like to call the “Choclatrials,” have been so devilishly powerful in the argument for chocolate’s dietary benefits, efforts to produce chocolate with healthier levels of fat and lowered sugar content have been strongly suggested.

Chocolate has long been praised for its anti-inflammatory, anti-thrombotic, anti-oxidant and anti-hypertensive effects.

Based on this, you do not have to be a cardiologist to note that chocolate is good for what curdles the blood and clogs the cogs of your ticker…

So, let’s get to the bottom of this. Why is chocolate so good for your cardiovascular system?

Here is why:

More cocoa equals less risk.

In fact, WebMD says to eat a small 1.6 ounce bar of dark chocolate every day.

It’s all about the epicatechin

The secret to chocolate’s success (with dark chocolate, in particular) in cardiovascular system health comes from the concentration of epicatechin, a powerful player in a gang of compounds called plant flavanoids. High concentrations of flavanoids are found in cocoa.

See, flavanoids are excellent at reducing the amount of cholesterol in blood vessels. This keeps clotting at bay, improves blood vessel function and promotes healthy, free blood flow through your arteries.

The problem is the process used to create chocolate can cause a significant reduction in the amount of plant flavanoids, even up to half can be destroyed in manufacturing.

The good news is, based on these findings, dark chocolatiers have found a way to make their products and still keep 95% of its flavanoid content.

Because the concentration is so high in darker chocolates, you don’t have to eat as much and risk other health problems associated with the fat and sugar content in chocolate.

You may be thinking this is all too good to be true. If flavanoids come from plants, couldn’t you get more from healthier eats?

Mary Engler, PhD, RN, of the University of California, San Francisco says, “not really.” Though other plants do contain these heart healthy compounds, cocoa wins as the highest provider.

Just please eat responsibly…

I do not advocate diving head-first into a box of truffles and washing them down with a Yoo-hoo. But, these studies inspire some compelling thoughts about one of the world’s most favored treats and its ability to slash one of the world’s most fearsome tricks – a silent killer that will take more than 26 million lives by 2030.

So remember, all chocolate is good for preventing heart disease and decreasing your chance of a stroke. But because epicathechin in cocoa is the major player, the darker the chocolate – the more powerful the protection.