Heart Disease: The Popular Treat That Can Lower Risk – Daily Express

WHAT do you do after dinner in the hour or two before bed? A lot of people choose to watch the television with cup of tea or a little snack before heading for bed. Sometimes that snack can include a square of dark chocolate. What you may not know is that that little square could be doing more good than harm.

Dark chocolate: 2018 study reveals the health benefits

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Dark chocolate comes from the cacao plant. In contrast to milk chocolate, dark chocolate has much lower levels of sugar, butter and milk and much more cacao. Whilst used in puddings aplenty, in small quantities dark chocolate can have some health benefits. This includes reducing your risk of heart disease.

According to some studies, regularly eating dark chocolate could reduce your risk of developing heart disease.

This is because some of the compounds in dark chocolate, notably the flavanols, can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your levels of cholesterol.

Flavanols stimulate the production of nitrous oxide in the body that cases the blood vessels to dilate, improving blood flow and lowering your blood pressure.

A 2017 study found that the effects are most significant in older people or those with a higher-than-average risk of cardiovascular disease.

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Dark chocolate next to a heart.

Dark chocolate could reduce your risk of heart disease. (Image: Getty Images)

With regards to cholesterol, dark chocolate has polyphenols and theobromine that some believe can lower your levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol and increase levels of good (HDL) cholesterol.

In 2017, a study found that eating dark chocolate every day for 15 days raised cholesterol levels in people living with HIV.

However, this same research found that that the participant’s levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol did not fall.

This isn’t the only positive impact dark chocolate can have, it can also have anti-inflammatory benefits.

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Dark chocolate was found in a small study in 2018 to affect the genes that regulate the immune system’s response.

Another study from the same year found that the flavanols in dark chocolate may enhance the brain’s ability to reorganise itself.

The impact was noticeable found in the brain’s response to injury and disease.

Two years previously, in 2016, a study found a positive association between regular dark chocolate ingestion and brain performance.

A healthy plate of food and a coffee. A

A balanced diet is key to a healthy life. (Image: Getty Images)

Before you purchase a packet 80 percent cocoa chocolate from your local shop, it is important to note that more research needs to be done to confirm all of the links mentioned.

Furthermore, as with all foods, it is necessary to say that eating too much dark chocolate will negatively impact your health due to the sugar content and high calorie count.

The key a healthy lifestyle is a balanced diet.

Dark chocolate has its role in this sense, but this role is very small.

Signs of a heart attack.

Signs of a heart attack. (Image: Daily Express)

On heart disease, though it is an umbrella term, there are a number of risk factors that will affect how likely you are to develop it.

The NHS lists a few of them on their website:

• High blood pressure

• Smoking

• High cholesterol

• Diabetes

• Inactivity

• Being overweight

• Family history

• Ethnic background.