Regular cocoa consumption could lower your blood pressure and even cut your risk of dying of a heart attack in half.

In a 15-year long Dutch study, over 450 men aged over 65 were divided into three groups based on their cocoa intake. The high-consumption group consisted of those who ate at least 4 grams each day.

Those in the group that consumed the least cocoa proved to be twice as likely to die of a heart attackas those who ate the most. Furthermore, those who consumed the most cocoa were also less likely to die of any cause, and had lower blood pressure than the other groups.

However, medical groups have urged caution, noting that raw cocoa and chocolate are not exactly the same. Eating 4 grams of cocoa would require consuming 100 grams of dark chocolate, at 500 calories plus in most commercial prepaations, high amounts ofsugar.

Archives of Internal Medicine February 27, 2006; 166(4): 411-417USA Today February 28, 2006New Scientist February 27, 2006

Dr. Mercola's Comment:A growing number of studies have indicated the health benefits of eating minimally processed darkchocolate. But this new study demonstrates that there's still room for surprising results.

Interestingly, the male patients who ate the most cocoa-derived products were no heavier and ate no more food than those who consumed less cocoa, according to the study.

But researchers were wisely cautious about any sort of blanket recommendation of chocolate, however, noting these men probably shared other qualities that made them healthy, and I suspect that's true. Additionally, a lot of people may use these results to justify poor health choices like consuming harmful processed chocolate products chock full of leadand insulin raising sugar.

If you're concerned about eating chocolate, I urge you to follow some simple guidelines to keep your eating habits safe and healthy:

One: If you eat chocolate, only eat DARK chocolate. Dark chocolate has antioxidant properties, which can actually help to protect the body from damaging oxidative stress. It also is far better than milk chocolate, as adding milk cancels out the chocolate's antioxidant effects.

However, even if chocolate is dark, that does not necessarily mean it is healthy; most chocolate, dark or milk, is processed in ways that destroy the majority of the beneficial polyphenolic bioflavanoids.

Two: Only eat chocolate if you're healthy. Chocolate, even if it is dark, still contains large quantities of sugar, and eating sugar is a profoundly negative influence on your immune system.It should be avoided if you are sick.

Three: Consumechocolate in moderation. A small bit of chocolate can be very satisfying if you savor each bite, rather than just wolfing it down. Also, if you are constantly craving sweets, you are likely not eating the correct balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates for your metabolic type. If you tend to crave chocolate when you are upset, bored or lonely, then you could benefit from resolving these underlying emotional issues that are driving you to seek comfort from chocolate.

By the way, if you've been looking for a healthy chocolate bar and haven't found one, you may want to try the Dagoba Eclipse Chocolate Bars sold in ourWeb store.

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