Celebrate Chocolate And Heart Health This Valentine’s Day

February 9, 2015
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

Enjoy The Healthy Benefits Of Cocoa Today And Every Day!

Valentine’s Day. Red roses, teddy bears, romantic dinners and boxes of chocolate!

Even though we associate chocolate more with Valentine’s Day than with any other day of the year, the truth is, the health benefits of cocoa can be enjoyed on a daily basis.

The Sweet Benefits of Cocoa

  • Increases fat loss and lowers BMI
  • Contains prebiotic fiber that feeds good bacteria in the gut
  • Stimulates nitric oxide synthesis to improve blood pressure and sexual performance
  • Slows aging and prevents disease with flavonoids
  • Protects the heart with healthy fat from oleic acid
  • Reduces anxiety, stress and sleeplessness with metabolically essential magnesium

Where the Magic Happens

Chocolate comes from the cacao tree, which grows brightly colored pods that are filled with cocoa beans.  The beans are fermented under banana leaves to produce their rich flavor and then they are dried in the sun.  Once dry, the beans are ground into a paste that is separated into cocoa butter and cocoa powder.

The amount of powder used determines what percentage cocoa the chocolate is.  I recommend 60-70% cocoa for optimal health benefits, blended with cocoa butter (not milk solids) and as little added sugar as possible.

Eating 100 mg of cocoa-rich chocolate daily is proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by 21%!

Why Percentage Matters

The importance of the percentage is due to the flavonoid content of cocoa.  Flavonoids are plant-based antioxidants that offer numerous benefits—including the ability to keep blood flowing smoothly and less likely to clot, which results in reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.

Cocoa contains two types of flavonoids: flavanols (including epicatechin) and anthocyanin.

In multivariable analyses, higher anthocyanin and flavone intake were associated with significantly lower peripheral insulin resistance and lower overall insulin levels, which is great news for those at risk for or suffering from type 2 diabetes.

Higher anthocyanin intake is also associated with lower levels of inflammation and lower highly sensitive C reactive protein (hs-CRP) levels—which are a standard measure of heart disease risk.

The flavonol epicatechin has been shown to increase mitochondrial biogenesis (protective and anti-aging activity within cells) and muscle strength endurance that can result in weight loss without having to change dietary or exercise habits.   

Yes, more frequent chocolate consumption was actually linked to lower BMI!

Love Your Gut Bacteria

Recently it was discovered that cocoa acts not only as a prebiotic for good bacteria in the gut, but the friendly bacteria actually transform phenol compounds in cocoa into major anti-inflammatories!  These polyphenols directly target inflammation of cardiovascular tissue, which according to John Finley, Ph.D., “reduces the long-term risk of stroke.”

Another win for chocolate and heart health!

Rich in Flavor, and Minerals!

Cocoa is also a rich source of magnesium, which as you read in my recent blog about magnesium and heart health, is a crucial life-saving mineral.  Copper, another mineral that is intimately related to hormone health, energy metabolism and mental health can also be found abundantly in cocoa.  A little goes a long way, so if you struggle with copper imbalance I recommend chocolately treats no more than once or twice per week.

My favorite way to celebrate the health benefits of cocoa is by enjoying a smoothie made with chocolate whey protein powder.  The Fat Flush Whey Protein is a rich tasting, non-denatured, A2 protein from grass-fed, disease-free herds of New Zealand cows.  Try my recipe below to indulge in decadent cocoa—plus natural appetite suppressing glycomacropeptides.

chocolate whey protein powderChocolate Sweetheart Smoothie

(Makes 1 serving)
1 cup fresh or frozen strawberries or raspberries
1 scoop Fat Flush Chocolate Whey Protein
8 ounces plain filtered water
1 tablespoon flaxseed oil
¼ teaspoon Stevia Plus, to taste (optional)
Ice cubes (optional)
Place all ingredients in a blender and combine until smooth.

Be sure to share this exciting information with all your friends and loved ones.  There’s a reason that everyone can enjoy indulging in chocolate now—no matter what day of the year!

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Marlene

    I’m allergic to chocolate, fortunately it’s not a life threatening allergy. Is it better to have chocolate for the benefits or to avoid it because of the stress on the adrenal glands?

    • Susie

      Marlene, I also have a chocolate allergy. I am however
      determined to find a way to heal it. I am planning to try homeopathic chocolate 30c 2 2x day for a month. I’ll repost my results. There may also be other homeopathic remedies to resolve this issue, does anyone know?

      • Lynn

        I’ve read that BOVISTA 200 can cure all food allergies but must be taken 1x a day for MANY months!

  2. Liz

    If I were you I would still avoid chocolate rather than put myself through an allergy reaction.

  3. Liz

    This is such interesting information about the benefits to the gut. Thank you



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