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Feed the Heart – fruit of the vine and chocolate in the news.

Published April 8th, 2014 in Heart Health

Dark Chocolate may not be your preferred type, but new research supports maybe it should be.

It might seem too good to be true, but dark chocolate is good for you and scientists now know why. Dark chocolate helps restore flexibility to arteries while also preventing white blood cells from sticking to the walls of blood vessels. Both arterial stiffness and white blood cell adhesion are known factors that play a significant role in atherosclerosis. What’s more, the scientists also found that increasing the flavanol content of dark chocolate did not change this effect. This discovery was published in the March 2014 issue of The FASEB Journal.

“The effect that dark chocolate has on our bodies is encouraging not only because it allows us to indulge with less guilt, but also because it could lead the way to therapies that do the same thing as dark chocolate but with better and more consistent results,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal. “Until the ‘dark chocolate drug’ is developed, however, we’ll just have to make do with what nature has given us!” “Based on materials provided by Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology.”

Up Next

With the local Greatest of the Grape event concluded for this year, it seemed like a good time to share some good news about the health benefits of wine. In moderation, red wine and dark chocolate are good health choices for any occasion. Susan Ofria, clinical nutrition manager at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, said the real food of love is dark chocolate and red wine.

“You are not even choosing between the lesser of two evils, red wine and dark chocolate have positive components that are actually good for your heart,” said Ofria, a registered dietitian at the Loyola University Health System’s Melrose Park campus.

Red wine and dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70 percent or higher contain resveratrol, which has been found to lower blood sugar. Red wine is also a source of catechins, which could help improve “good” HDL cholesterol.

Red Wine — “Pinots, shirahs, merlots — all red wines are a good source of catechins and resveratrol to aid ‘good’ cholesterol.”

Dark chocolate, 70 percent or higher cocoa content — “Truffles, soufflés and even hot chocolate can be a good source of resveratrol and cocoa phenols (flavonoids) as long as dark chocolate with a high content of cocoa is used.”

Walnuts and almonds — “Both walnuts and almonds contain omega-3 fatty acids and may be eaten dipped in or along with chocolate and wine. Vitamin E, magnesium, fiber and heart-favorable mono- and polyunsaturated fats are the heavy hitters for health in these nuts.”

Blueberries/cranberries/raspberries/strawberries — “Berries are a good source of beta carotene and lutein, anthocyanin, ellagic acid (a polyphenol), vitamin C, folate, potassium and fiber.” And they go terrific with dark chocolate and wine making for even more nutrition that isn’t sinful.

Don’t Drink Wine?

A study in the December 2012 issue of the Journal of Food Science, published by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT), found it is possible to create cookies enriched with antioxidants from grape seeds that taste good and have an antioxidant level about 10 times higher than a regular cookie.

Grape seed extracts are rich in antioxidants which have been associated with beneficial effects on human health such as prevention of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. So until they develop a better way, the use of high quality Grape Seed Oil in baking and salad dressings can boost your nutrition, along with that dark chocolate.

A study appearing in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry May 2013, demonstrated grapes are able to reduce heart failure associated with chronic high blood pressure (hypertension) by increasing the activity of several genes responsible for antioxidant defense in the heart tissue. Grapes are a known natural source of antioxidants and other polyphenols, which researchers believe to be responsible for the beneficial effects observed with grape consumption.

So there you go, you don’t have to drink wine if you don’t want to, organic unsweetened grape juice will provide nutrition without the buzz. And Organic Dark Chocolate lovers know you are feeding your hearts while indulging your taste buds.

To Your Good Health,

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