Dr. Mark A. Rosenberg.
Many of us love chocolate. Yet, we may have reserved it as a once in a while treat because it has traditionally fallen into the “bad choice” category of sweets. With the results of recent research coming out of Sweden though, many chocolate lovers are going to be reunited with their former love. In doing so, they’re also going to lower their risk of stroke. Here’s why.
Chocolate: A Superfood in a Sweet Package
Technically, cacao, or cocoa, from which chocolate is made, is the component which is the heart healthy, stroke preventing superfood. The more cocoa that’s in a chocolate product – 30% in milk chocolate to 90% in dark chocolate – the more benefit derived. Researchers at Sweden’s Karolinska Institut have proven in 2 studies – one in 2011 and one this year – that people who ate the most chocolate (hence, cocoa) had decreased incidence of stroke.
In the latest report, the group of men studied showed a decreased risk of 17%. Their chocolate intake was in the form of a once a week 2.2 ounce chocolate bar over a period of about 10 years. Although the study did not state which type of chocolate the men ate – milk or dark – the study relates that 90% of chocolate consumed in Sweden is milk chocolate. We might assume, then, that the men likely ate milk chocolate. In the previous study done a year ago, men and women had a combined decreased risk of 19%.
What is it about chocolate, or cocoa, that could cause these stroke-prevention results?
Cocoa contains flavonoids, which act as both antioxidants that destroy free radicals as well as lower blood pressure and increase HDL, or “good”, cholesterol. More importantly, flavonoids act to improve arterial function. They also thin blood which can prevent clots from forming – a primary cause of heart attack and stroke. Dark chocolate typically has more flavonoid content around 12mg per gram of dark chocolate.
The researchers also pointed out, though, that these results might also be due to the participants’ healthy lifestyles of exercising and not smoking. The researchers also did not recommend that people go out and start eating several chocolate bars a week to derive the heart/stroke benefits. Regular chocolate bars can contain a fair amount of fat and sugar – both of which can lead to obesity that can derail any of chocolate’s potential benefits.
Make Chocolate Even More Health-Friendly
The findings of the Swedish research are impressive as well as another study conducted by PhD student Ella Zomer, Professor Christopher Reid, Dr Alice Owen and Dr Dianna Magliano from the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, and Professor Danny Liew from The University of Melbourne predicted that daily dark chocolate consumption could prevent 70 non-fatal and 15 fatal cardiovascular events per 10,000 people over a 10-year period.
Ms Zomer said the study was the first to examine the long-term health benefits of flavanoids, which are found in dark chocolate and known to lower blood pressure and cholesterol.That study showed that people who regularly consumed dark chocolate in the form of bars, or cups of cocoa, had lower blood pressure.
Dr, Rosenberg recommends pure unsweetened cocoa, and/or dark chocolate bars, to his patients. “ My suggestion is to drink a mug full of cocoa made from unsweetened cocoa – adding either soy milk or almond milk, and stevia to sweeten (see my recipe below). Cocoa also has a fair amount of magnesium in it which also helps decrease stroke and heart attack risk. Many Americans are deficient in magnesium as well. According to Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, author of The Magnesium Miracle, for every 100 mg of magnesium intake, risk of stroke is decreased by 8%.”
Chococru Cocoa contains 456mg magnesium per 100g. By having just 12g of Chococru cocoa per day (about 2 teaspoons) would help achieve this benefit.
“Additionally, there are chocolate bars available in health food stores, as well as grocery and specialty stores throughout the country, that do not contain all the butterfat of regular “candy” chocolate bars or the caffeine”.
Some good brands that make high cocoa content and/or stevia sweetened chocolate bars are Chococru Miracle Tea Bars, Green and Black, Lily’s, Dante’s Confections, Chakralat or Lucienne’s. One of the best cocoa products I have found with the highest flavanol level is Chococru, Extraordinary Flavanol Cocoa.
“Like all good things – enjoy chocolate responsibly. Continue to eat an optimal nutrition diet including good amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, get regular exercise and sleep, don’t smoke and limit alcohol. All these things can help reduce your risk of stroke and/or heart disease”.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
About Dr. Rosenberg
Dr. Mark A. Rosenberg, MD Dr. Mark Rosenberg received his doctorate from Georgetown University School of Medicine in 1988 and has been involved with drug research since 1991. With numerous certifications in several different fields of medicine, psychology, healthy aging and fitness, Dr. Rosenberg has a wide breadth of experience in both the public and private sector with particular expertise in both the mechanism of cancer treatment failure and in treating obesity. He currently is researching new compounds to treat cancer and obesity, including receiving approval status for an investigational new drug that works with chemotherapy and a patent pending for an oral appetite suppressant. He is currently President of the Institute for Healthy Aging, Program Director of the Integrative Cancer Fellowship, and Chief Medical Officer of Rose Pharmaceuticals. His work has been published in various trade and academic journals. In addition to his many medical certifications, he also personally committed to physical fitness and is a certified physical fitness trainer.