DANVILLE - Pick up just about any magazine and you can find an article about the benefits of drinking red wine and eating dark chocolate. Studies have found that both wine and chocolate contain antioxidants that protect body cells from disease.
"Speculation about the benefits of drinking wine and eating dark chocolate began years ago when it was discovered that the French population had a lower incidence of cardiovascular disease, despite a diet that was higher in saturated fat," said Dr. Peter Berger, associate chief research officer and director of the Center for Clinical Studies. "Researchers believe that, in part, this is due to their regular consumption of red wine."
Antioxidants such as flavonoids and resveratrol that are found in chocolate and red wine protect the body against "free radicals," molecules that, in our bodies, cause aging, heart disease and cancer. The flavonoids and resveratrol in red wine may be able to slow or completely stop the formation of fatty plaque in the coronary arteries that can lead to a heart attack, Berger said.
The cocoa in dark chocolate, which has high antioxidant factors, has beneficial effects by lowering blood pressure, increasing insulin sensitivity, reducing inflammation, increasing good cholesterol (HDL) and decreasing bad cholesterol (LDL).
"Studies show that dark chocolate may be more beneficial than milk chocolate," Berger said. "Milk chocolate also contains higher levels of milk and sugar than dark chocolate."
While many studies suggest that consumption of foods and beverages rich in antioxidants may be beneficial, there are no recommendations about how much resveratrol is needed to provide health benefits.
"Enjoying red wine and eating some dark chocolate may have health benefits, but it's important to remember - everything in moderation," he said.