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%.
Heart diseases: know the main ones and learn to identify them
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According to the Brazilian Society of Cardiology (SBC), cardiovascular diseases are among the leading causes of death in Brazil. According to the institution, most deaths could be avoided or postponed with preventive care and therapeutic measures.Peter Dazeley/Getty Images
For BCS, prevention and proper treatment of risk factors and heart disease can be enough to reverse serious conditions. To do this, you must know how to identify the main symptoms of cardiovascular problems and treat them, if you have any.parmuratdeniz/ Getty Images
Among the cardiovascular diseases that cause the most deaths, cerebrovascular accident (CVA) stands out. It is due to the presence of fatty plaques that obstruct the blood vessels of the brain. Symptoms include: difficulty speaking, dizziness, difficulty swallowing, weakness on one side of the body, among others.KATERYNA KON/SCIENTIFIC PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images
Atherosclerosis is a disease caused by hardening of the arteries that carry oxygen and nutrients from the heart to the body. The condition impairs blood circulation and causes the patient to experience weakness, fatigue, and chest pain. In addition to being linked to the aging process, the disease can be caused by high cholesterol, genetics, diabetes and hypertension.Katleho Seisa/Getty Images
Cardiomyopathy is another serious disease that affects the heart. The disease, which leaves the heart muscle inflamed and swollen, can weaken the heart to the point where a transplant is needed. Symptoms of the disease include frequent weakness, swelling, and fatigue.SolStock/Getty Images
Myocardial infarction occurs when blood flow to the myocardial muscle is interrupted for a long time. The lack of blood in the area can lead to serious problems and even tissue death. Obesity, smoking, high cholesterol and genetic tendency can cause the disease. Symptoms include: chest pain that lasts 20 minutes, tingling in the arm, burning in the chest, etc.KATERYNA KON/SCIENTIFIC PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images
Heart failure is one of the most common and serious heart diseases. It is characterized by the inability of the heart to pump blood to the body. The disease causes fatigue, breathing difficulties, weakness, etc. Among the main causes of the disease are: infections, diabetes, unhealthy habits, etc.parmuratdeniz/ Getty Images
Peripheral artery disease, like most heart disease, is caused by the buildup of fatty deposits and other substances in the arteries that carry blood to the lower parts of the body, such as the feet and legs. High cholesterol and smoking contribute to the problem. Symptoms include sores that do not heal, erectile dysfunction, and body swelling.manusapon kasosod / Getty Images
Caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses from other parts of the body that migrate to the heart and infect the endocardium, endocarditis is a condition that can cause chills, fever, and fatigue. The treatment of the disease will depend on the condition of the patient and sometimes surgery may be indicated.FG Commerce/Getty Images
Caused by inflammation of other heart muscles, myocarditis can lead to weakening of the heart, abnormal heart rate and sudden death. Chest pain, shortness of breath and abnormal heart rhythm are some of the main symptomsPeter Dazeley/Getty Images
In addition to common symptoms of each of the cardiovascular diseases, excessive tiredness for no apparent reason, nausea or loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, swelling, chills, dizziness, fainting, tachycardia, and persistent cough may be signs of heart problems.Peter Dazeley/Getty Images
According to the Cardiovascular Prevention Guide of the Brazilian Society of Cardiology (SBC), despite some specific cases, it is possible to prevent heart problems by maintaining good eating habits, exercising and taking care of your mind.andresr/Getty Images
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.