I bet you didn’t realize that when you drink a soothing cup of flavorful cocoa, you are actually protecting your heart with antioxidants known as flavonoids. These nutrients have been found to be highly concentrated in dark chocolate. The darkest chocolate has the greatest amount of these substances.
It has been recently discovered that flavonoids cause the lining of blood vessels to produce a gas known as nitric oxide, which Dr. Robert Furchgott of SUNY Downstate Medical Center described in 1980 and for which he and two other scientists received the Nobel Prize.
Nitric oxide causes arteries to increase in size, thus increasing blood flow throughout the body. It has also been found to reduce high blood pressure, as well as increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which controls diabetes. Cocoa is only one of the substances containing flavonoids that can achieve this. Foods such as onions, kale, green beans, broccoli, celery, red wine, tomatoes, apples with skin and grape juice are loaded with these nutrients.
It is interesting that chocolate has been associated with the heart on Valentine’s Day. I am sure that those who started this tradition were not aware that the hearts and souls of their loved ones would be protected.
For many years, researchers have wondered how the French could ingest large quantities of trans fats and have fewer heart attacks than Americans. When one looks at the diet of French people, it includes a great deal of vegetables and an ample amount of wine. It is in these foods that flavonoids are highly concentrated.
Foods containing flavonoids have also been found to inhibit the growth of cancer cells and liver disorders. Enjoy the flavor and protective qualities of foods with flavonoids!