Are chocolate and wine good for your heart?: Cardiologist weighs in
Can you keep your heart healthy by regularly eating chocolate and drinking wine?
Popular health claims say these treats may help your heart, but the answer is a bit more complex.
Cardiologist Joseph Mobley, MD, helps break down the answer.
How does dark chocolate help our heart?
Let’s start from the beginning: Chocolate comes from cocoa beans.
Chocolate is made from sugar, fat and cocoa beans that have been roasted and then ground into a chocolate liquor, which is half cocoa solids and half cocoa butter.
The more cocoa solids included, the chocolatier it will taste. A dark or more bitter chocolate has 70 percent of cocoa solids.
This is where the “healthy” aspect comes in; any potential health attributes from chocolate are tied to darker chocolate with higher cocoa solids.
“These cocoa solids have increased amounts of dietary flavonoids, which are antioxidants and have been linked to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels, which may improve coronary artery disease risk,” said Dr. Mobley.
How does red wine help our heart?
Red wine also contains antioxidants, which can raise our HDL (good cholesterol) and improve the function of the lining of blood vessels.
“It also contains a chemical called resveratrol, which may reduce LDL. Alcohol in general also has blood-thinning properties,” Dr. Mobley said. “In moderation, red wine may be beneficial for heart health.”
We frequently read that dark chocolate and red wine are good for our heart. Is this true?
Although there are minor benefits, there still isn’t clear evidence that red wine is any better than other alcohol varieties (beer, white wine, liquor) in improving cardiac health.
The same goes for dark chocolate.
“With dark chocolate, the amount of flavonoids used in clinical trials looking at this claim has generally been quite large and probably higher than what would be in a normal diet,” Dr. Mobley said. “The overall benefit is probably limited.”
The bottom line:
The key to all these claims is moderation in intake.
“Increased alcohol intake can certainly be harmful and high amounts increase cardiovascular risk,” Dr. Mobley said.
Dr. Mobley recommends adapting to a heart-healthy lifestyle, which is much more than just eating dark chocolate and drinking red wine.
Joseph Mobley, MD, is a cardiologist with Cardiology Consultants.