With a prescription of utterly delectable heart disease prevention who wouldn’t want to take their daily medicine?
It produces the serotonin inside the brain. It triggers the dopamine release inside the brain. And now, researchers have discovered it is a rich source of flavonoids and gallic acids, ingredients assisting the prevention of heart attacks and strokes. Yep, it’s dark chocolate.
Earlier this month, researchers at John Hopkins University looked at how long it took participants’ platelets to clot. A platelet is a small blood cell needed for normal blood clotting. The results were tasty, proving the platelets of chocoholics clump up seven seconds slower than that of those who steer away from indulging in the substance.
So who were the lucky folks who got to participate in this research?
John Hopkins scientists initially set up an investigation of the side effects of aspirin on the miniscule solid particles in blood, more commonly known as platelets. However, 139 of the 1,200 participants couldn’t kick their chocolate habits. Consequently, they were thrown off the study.
These chocoholics formed the second test group researching the speed of platelet clumping. Clumping is a result from a low count of platelets. The platelets of the chocolate-lovers clumped within 130 seconds, rather than the 123 seconds of others. These slower-clotting platelets have the ability to avoid heart attacks and stroke.
Platelets are important for wound healing, as well as clotting the blood at the site of an injury. In the lining of the endothelium (a layer of cells lining the interior surface of blood vessels), platelets can clump and adhere to the site of an injury and subsequently contribute to the development of abnormal cells and lipids along artery walls. A decrease in platelet activity is favorable to overall cardiovascular health.
John Hopkins University researchers aren’t the only one finding dark chocolate to be highly beneficial. In Chicago, on November 15th 2006, the American Heart Association agreed with JHU findings. Lead scientist of the study, Diane Becker, recommends ingesting two tablespoons of dark chocolate a day for the beneficial effect.
Some MSU students have already caught on to the phenomenon of dark chocolate. Political science senior Alessa Thomas has favored the substance since becoming accustomed at an early age.
“My mom used to buy dark chocolate chips instead of regular ones. She’s a chemistry teacher, so she knows how that goes,” Thomas said. “It grows on you.”
In high school, Thomas studied the mental and physical health effects of dark chocolate. Although she preferred dark chocolate before the presentation, since then she makes sure to eat a miniature piece of dark chocolate daily.
But doesn’t chocolate make us fat? Two-thirds of the fat in chocolate come in the forms of saturated fat called stearic acid. However, unlike most saturated fats, stearic acids do not raise the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. LDL has been commonly called “the bad cholesterol,” as it is often linked to heart disease. Eating relatively large amounts of dark chocolate could even lower LDL levels. Dark chocolate just keeps getting better and better.
Of course, there is the adverse of this technique. Many nutritionists have the concern that even though dark chocolate may assist in the prevention of some cardiovascular issues, the amount needed to receive the benefits would provide a relatively high quantity of calories. Obesity would ultimately be a product of this factor, resulting in cardiovascular problems.
But dark chocolate does more than preventing heart attacks. In a research done by The FASEB Journal, ten participants had a severe cough. They were given theobromine, an ingredient in chocolate. The results concluded theobromine to be one-third more effective than codeine, the leading cough medicine.
“When my boyfriend and I first started dating, I was sick,” Thomas said. “He bought me a big bag of Hershey’s kisses.”
Unfortunately, chocolate hasn’t yet been given the go-ahead to completely reduce the risk of heart disease. A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables and little fat or sugar is the way to go.
But let’s be honest… chocolate tastes much better.

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