The health benefits of chocolate and wine

September 28, 2015

If you have taken on healthy eating as part of a plan for better heart health, indulging with some chocolate and a glass of wine is allowed — in fact, it's encouraged!

The health benefits of chocolate and wine

Calling all chocoholics

  • Chocolate-lovers will be delighted to hear that dark chocolate provides protection against heart attacks and strokes. Thanks to its high content of polyphenols and other antioxidants, dark chocolate reduces inflammation, lowers blood pressure, reduces "bad" LDL cholesterol, boosts "good" HDL cholesterol and protects the health of your arteries. It also contains chemicals that prompt the release of endorphins, the body's pain-relieving and pleasure-promoting hormones.
  • In one major review of 139 studies conducted over nearly 40 years, researchers concluded that chocolate consumption could lower the risk of cardiovascular death by 19 percent. All you need to eat to improve your health is seven grams (1.75 teaspoons) per day. That's equivalent to one small square two or three times a week. The bad news? The heart benefits tend to disappear with consumption of larger amounts.
  • A little dark chocolate may also help to curb your appetite for unhealthy foods, according to research at the University of Copenhagen, which reveals that dark chocolate is more filling than milk chocolate and reduces cravings for salty, fatty or sugary items.
  • The key to eating chocolate is to know when to stop and when not to indulge. A craving for chocolate is the most common of all food cravings in both men and women. If you're hankering for some, try taking a brisk 15-minute walk. Researchers found that a walk alleviated cravings in chocoholics, even in tempting situations.

Drink to your health

  • It is now widely accepted that regular, moderate wine consumption is not only enjoyable but can also reduce your risk of coronary artery disease. According to researchers at Joseph Fourier University in France, wine also lowers the risk of second or further heart attacks. When the team studied 353 men who had recently suffered a heart attack, they found that drinking two or more glasses of wine regularly halved their risk of a second attack, compared with men who did not drink.The benefits of red wine, in particular, are so impressive that at least one British hospital even offers two glasses a day to select heart patients.
  • The key ingredient seems to be a powerful antioxidant called resveratrol, derived especially from Pinot Noir grapes grown in wet and humid regions. Resveratrol can also be found in smaller amounts in grape juice and peanuts. Scientists at the Pavese Pharma Biochemical Institute in Italy are even trying to capture its benefits in a pill.
  • Indulge in a glass of red wine and savour a little dark chocolate, knowing that they are doing you good.
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