How to fight heart disease with dark chocolate and red wine

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Sweet news--Dark chocolate and red wine can be good for your heart! But, alas, only in moderation. Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, explains how you can fight heart disease by eating dark chocolate and drinking red wine.

How to fight heart disease with dark chocolate and red wine

What you need to know about the effects of dark chocolate and red wine on your cardiovascular system:

Dark Chocolate

  • Dark chocolate with a cocoa bean content of 70% or more contains flavonoids that actually reduce blood pressure and act as antioxidants in your system. But while the dark chocolate is good for your heart, it does contain calories, and excess weight can be bad for your heart. Don't forget that each little square of dark chocolate has about 30 calories and the calories can add up if you eat too many. Limit yourself to one square a day, if possible.
  • Dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate because it has a higher concentration of the cocoa beans that provide the benefits.


Red Wine

  • Red wine also contains the same antioxidant properties as dark chocolate, but again you have to be careful to consume it in moderation. High fat and high sugar-content foods release free radicals that can get into your blood plaque and cause rupture of vessels and arteries. The antioxidants in red wine (and dark chocolate) stabilize the free radicals.
  • One to two glasses is the maximum amount you should consume to get the benefits without adding too many extra calories. And remember: A "glass" in this example contains about 6 ounces of wine.
  • While white wine is okay, it does not contain as many antioxidants as red.
Transcript LISA:  I’m Lisa Birnbach for howdini. Dark Chocolate is health food, really? Its good for your heart, and that’s not all. Here to share the sweet news is Dr, Suzanne Stienbaum, a Cardiologist and specializes in women’s heart diseases at Lenox Hill hospital in New York. Is it true, can I eat more and more dark chocolate, and feel like I’m doing something medicinal for myself?

SUZANNE:  I wouldn’t say more and more, I would say a little. Because, dark chocolate, about seventy percent of it being from the cocoa bean has in it bioflavonoid. Now what this substance does is actually decrease blood pressure, and decrease the incidents of heart disease. Its and antioxidant, and the cocoa bean is actually good for your heart. But, as you know, chocolate does have calories. And, in fact, one of those little squares of chocolate has about thirty calories. So eating one of those a day is actually beneficial to your heart.

LISA:  Does milk chocolate has any of the same flavonoids that dark chocolate has?

SUZANNE:  Really what the best kind of chocolate to eat is the dark chocolate, because the dark chocolate is the one with the greater amount of cocoa in it. And the cocoa is what we really need to look at, and at seventy percent, we get those bioflavonoids.

LISA:  Now red wine has also been discussed as something good for your heart, how do you feel about that?  

SUZANNE:  Again, red wine has the same sort of antioxidant property in it. It’s very important to understand the amount of red wine, that’s very important. The glasses of red wine should be about six ounces. And one to two glasses of red wine is actually helpful for you, because again of those antioxidants.

LISA:  Now, when I hear the word antioxidant, I think of cancer preventing. But, antioxidant is also heart disease preventing.

SUZANNE:  That’s right, when you eat food that is high in fats or high in sugars it goes through a process that releases these free radicals. And antioxidants stabilize these free radicals. These demons get inside the plaque, and actually can cause a co-rupture. So antioxidants in concept are very good in stabilizing and preventing the development of heart disease.

LISA:  I’m just wondering, you talked about the cocoa bean being the protector in chocolate. Is it the grape in wine that is the antioxidant?

SUZANNE:  It’s actually the peal that has the most antioxidants in it.

LISA:  And what about the white grape? Is that useful at all in preventing heart disease?

SUZANNE:  Yes it is but it doesn’t have as much antioxidants as the red. And all of this in moderation is helpful. Like I said, dark chocolate in moderation, and red wine in moderation. And that’s not a huge one to two glasses a day, that’s a six-ounce glass of wine.

LISA:  That’s not bad.

SUZANNE:  No.

LISA:  Okay, thank you Dr. Stienbaum.

SUZANNE:  Sure.

LISA:  For howdini, I’m Lisa Birnbach.
meet theexpert
  • Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum

    Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum Cardiologist, Lenox Hill Hospital, NY Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum is an attending cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. She is often cited in magazines and newspapers and is regularly seen on network news health segments for ABC, NBC and CBS. more about this expert »

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