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Friday, January 14, 2011

Dark Chocolate Health Benefits: Medical Science Confirms Dark Chocolate Good For Heart

A dark chocolate Tim Tam.Image via Wikipedia
By Walter Bell


Here is a definite answer to the question, "Is dark chocolate good for you?" Yes, the benefits of dark chocolate have been confirmed by medical science. According to an American Heart Association(AHA) scientific journal news release dated Aug. 17, 2010 there certainly are dark chocolate health benefits. According to the AHA report eating moderate amounts of chocolate is linked to lower risks of heart failure among other benefits.



Experts warn, however, moderation is they key. Murrray Mittleman, M.D.,Dr.P.H. and director of the Cardiovascular Epidemiology Research Unit at Harvard Medical School's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston says " If you're going to have a treat, dark chocolate is probably a good choice, as long as it's in moderation."

The reason for moderation is, although the benefits of dark chocolate are clear from scientific studies, the consequences of consuming too much fat and too many calories must be weighed in as well.

Watching Out For Saturated Fat

What to look out for is the amount of saturated fat and sugar we consume with any type of sweets and chocolate products including dark chocolate. Be aware there is unsaturated fat and then there is the less desirable saturated fat. Dark chocolate health benefits actually come, in part, from its unsaturated fat component. The unsaturated fat in chocolate actually helps raise good HDL cholesterol levels and that is good for the heart.

The Fat Content Of A Popular Dark Chocolate Bar

The suggested number of blocks for a single serving is 3 for the large size (6.8oz) Hershey Special Dark. This comes to a total of 11 grams of fat per serving according to the label. Seven of those grams are actually saturated fat grams.

How Much Daily Fat Can We Actually Handle?

The AHA says the average American adult needs about 2,000 calories in their daily diet. Also according to the American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee sedentary (inactive) adults should limit daily saturated fat to 16 grams and total fat between 50 and 70 grams each day based on a 2,000 total calorie daily intake.

People who lead active lifestyles, however, can handle more fat intake. Exercising regularly, consuming lots of vegetation and drinking plenty of water daily tends to help burn fat calories and help flush it from the system. Thus, active individuals tend to have a higher calorie intake need and fat handling capacity beyond the limitations established for those who are less active.

How Much Hershey Special Dark Chocolate Is Good For You?

By following what the AHA has set forth as a guide for daily saturated fat intake sedentary individuals should limit indulgence of Hershey Special Dark to no more than 1 or 2 servings daily. At two servings this would be 2 X 7grams = 14 grams of saturated fat.

Eating two servings as a sedentary individual leaves room for only 2 more grams of saturated fat in the diet before the daily recommended limit of 16 grams is reached.

The real down side, nutritionally, of the Hershey Special Dark Chocolate bar, like many supermarket brands, is its high sugar content. It is 50% sugar (18g of sugar in a 36 g serving) and 170 calories per 3 block serving. With this said, by all means enjoy dark chocolate health benefits but you may want to consider less sugary brands in doing so.





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