Memory Care America - January/February 2021



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Inside 1 Making Holidays Special! 2 After an Exhausting Journey, the Stone Family Finds Serenity at Memory Care of Naples 3 Memory Care Photo Roundup 3 Word Search 4 Is Dark Chocolate Really Good for Your Heart?


A s you give and get chocolate for Valentine’s Day (or jump on post-holiday chocolate sales), you’ll probably hear that dark chocolate is healthy for you. Before you decide to incorporate dark chocolate into your daily diet, you should ask yourself what that means. Can dark chocolate really be “healthy”? Studies on dark chocolate’s supposed benefits focus on compounds found within cocoa, specifically flavanols, which are found in most fruits and vegetables (and cocoa!) and help lower blood pressure and reduce low-density lipoproteins, aka “bad” cholesterol.

advantage of those benefits is not as simple as just eating dark chocolate. Each bar will include a percentage, which indicates the amount of cocoa. The higher the percentage, the better; 70%–80% is considered the sweet spot in terms of balancing health benefits and flavor, but as the percentage of cocoa increases, the more bitter the chocolate becomes. However, the amount of flavanols found in a typical 1-ounce piece of 80% dark chocolate is very small. Alice H. Lichtenstein, a Gershoff professor of nutrition science and policy at Tufts University in Boston, says, “Dark chocolate has more flavanols than other types of chocolate; the data to suggest there is enough to have a health effect is thin at this point.”

A 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association that focused on dark chocolate, cocoa, and raw almonds also concluded that the heart benefits were small. Dark chocolate appeared most effective when paired with other heart-healthy foods, such as almonds. So what about other types of chocolate, like milk or semi-sweet? Once the cocoa content falls below 60%, the benefits disappear entirely. The flavanol levels are too low and the sugar and fat content too high, which negates any heart health benefits. As with all good things, moderation is key. Eating too much dark chocolate has the reverse effect and can cause inflammation, and inflammation is the enemy of the heart.

By that notion, dark chocolate does have heart health benefits, but taking


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