Health Advice



Let cacao supercharge your heart health

By Michael Roizen, M.D. on

"Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" is a novel by Roald Dahl that tells the tale of young Charlie Bucket as he explores Willy Wonka's magical chocolate factory. Charlie emerges as heir to the delicious enterprise -- saving his whole family from misfortune and bad health. Chocolate can do that.

We're talking about dark, dark chocolate and cocoa extract, which contain a super-dose of heart-loving, cancer-fighting flavanols. According to the National Cancer Institute, when you ingest cocoa extract, you trigger dilation of your blood vessels, increase blood flow and lower blood pressure. Insulin sensitivity increases, cognition improves and inflammation is tamped down. Plus, healthy cells are protected from stress that leads to DNA damage.

Just how does that translate to better heart health? Well, according to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, ingesting cocoa extracts reduced the incidence of cardiovascular death by 27% for folks in the Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study.

Participants consumed cocoa extract that delivered 500 milligrams a day of the flavanols epicatechin and catechin, plus procyanidins and xanthines. Epicatechin is also in brewed green tea, cherries and fava beans (although in much lower concentration). Catechin is also in red wine, broad beans, black grapes, apricots and strawberries. Procyanidins are found in blueberries, cranberries and black currents, and xanthines are in caffeine. So enjoy an ounce of 70% (or higher) cacao chocolate and other sources of those flavonols every day, and ask your doctor about the benefits of taking cacao extract.



Health pioneer Michael Roizen, M.D., is chief wellness officer emeritus at the Cleveland Clinic and author of four No. 1 New York Times bestsellers. His next book is "The Great Age Reboot: Cracking the Longevity Code for a Younger Tomorrow." Do you have a topic Dr. Mike should cover in a future column? If so, please email

(c)2022 Michael Roizen, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2022 Michael Roizen, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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