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Chocolate is good for the heart. Cardiologist teaches how to choose

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Eating chocolate is good for the heart. The food is rich in flavonoids, which have an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effect, that is, it protects cells against the effects of free radicals produced by the body. Consumption also increases the function of nitric oxide in our body, which lowers blood pressure and increases vascular flow.

In 2019 it was published in International Journal of Cardiovascular Sciences (IJCS), from the Brazilian Society of Cardiology (SBC), research that linked chocolate consumption to a lower rate of hypertension and diabetes, risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

“The substances present in chocolate help prevent atherosclerosis, which is the inflammation caused by the accumulation of fats, cholesterol and other substances on and inside the walls of the arteries”, explains Claudio Tinoco Mesquita , editor of the IJCS (SBC) and associate professor of medicine at the Federal University of Fluminense.

But the big problem with chocolate is the calories – because, to make cocoa more palatable, sugar, milk and fat are added to the formulations. Excess consumption can contribute to obesity, increasing the risk of heart disease.

How to choose the best option

The best way to guarantee benefits and reduce risk is to ingest 45 grams per week, according to an article published in the British Medical Journal, which evaluated 14 publications on the subject.

Studies also show that the higher the percentage of cocoa, the greater the benefits. “The healthiest is dark and sour chocolate. White chocolate contains more fat and dark chocolate less sugar,” says Mesquita. According to the doctor, none of them should be avoided.

At the time of purchase, the consumer should pay attention to the minimum amount of cocoa and beware of fake chocolates. One in three chocolates sold in Brazil does not have the minimum percentage of cocoa required by the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa), which is at least 25%. Many do not even reach 5%.

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Light and dietary products

Another issue that deserves attention is light and diet chocolates. A light product contains 25% less nutrients, while a diet product does not. “The diet Easter egg, for example, does not contain sugar, but it can contain a lot of fat. It is also not recommended to consume chocolate regularly, as it contains a large amount of calories,” comments Mesquita.

If the craving is for chocolate, the healthier option, according to the doctor, is to opt for a small bar. “As with other things in life, moderation seems to be the best option,” he concludes.

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