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Food & diet

Dark chocolate is good for the heart: our experts explain which one to choose

May 13, 2019

If giving it up is impossible to say the least, unless you are on the list of the very few who do not love it, it is good to know what are the vices and virtues of chocolate. Dr. Manuela Pastore, dietician at the Humanitas Clinical Institute, explained the positive effects, especially of dark chocolate, on the heart, provided that the doses are not exaggerated.


Which kind of chocolate to choose?

A rare Latin saying of wisdom says: “Once a year, it’s okay to do crazy things”. This was also confirmed by Dr. Pastore, who underlined the importance of not exaggerating with doses, in order to take the best of what chocolate can offer, even in terms of health. But what kind of chocolate should you choose? “The basic ingredient is always the same and it is the cocoa bean that is processed into a paste. Cocoa paste, which obviously changes according to the beans used, is fundamental: then cocoa and sugar are added – said the Humanitas expert -. In some cases then milk is also added. Obviously, to this basic composition can be added a large number of ingredients, depending on the type of taste that each person seeks. So today we can find chocolate that contains, for example, dried fruit or fruit. The important thing, from the point of view of both taste and health, is to choose quality products”.

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The dark chocolate, with its antioxidants are preferable

In many ways, dark chocolate is an excellent choice. It is sufficient to remember that we speak of dark chocolate when the percentage of cocoa is not below 40 percent. The choice of cocoa beans is also fundamental to the perception of taste: the higher the percentage of cocoa rises, the greater the perception of an increasingly bitter taste, which not everyone likes.

“From flavonoids to theobromine and others, which can have positive effects on the well-being of the cardiovascular system by helping to protect the vessels, dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants – said Dr. Pastore -. The protective effect is demonstrated by several clinical studies that, however, have concentrated on quantities of chocolate ranging between 20 and 50 grams per day, for a calorie content of about 150-250 calories. Above these amounts, the situation does not improve. In short, don’t exaggerate. “Above all, it is necessary to avoid falling into what some people, perhaps in a playful tone, have called “chocolate”, that is, the ability that chocolate has to act on the feeling of well-being – continued Pastore -. It is certain that this aspect is also affected by psychoactive substances that are present in this food, such as anandamide or precisely theobromine, which can also have a euphoric effect. But be careful not to think that with chocolate we can immediately change our mood. These actions are only temporary and are not maintained, so there is the risk of finding ourselves munching on chocolate with an impact on the calories we introduce”.


How much chocolate should we eat per day?

“Those who are healthy and not overweight should not exceed 30 grams a day – concluded the dietician -. In this way any excess caloric intake can be disposed of without particular difficulty and is therefore well supported by the body. What can help is to take a piece of it and put it in the kitchen, away from the table. This way, you do not run the risk of finding yourself churning out chocolate, while perhaps chatting with relatives”.

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