Can wine and chocolate prevent heart disease?

While you might want to believe that wine and chocolate, in small doses, could help decrease the risk of heart disease, it turns out that they might not be the best preventive medicine.

If you have a family history of heart disease, talk to your doctor before indulging in wine or dark chocolate.

"It's nice to offer patients something they actually like to consume, but wine and chocolate are not prescribed medicines," said Wesley Tyree, MD, a cardiologist at the HonorHealth Heart and Vascular Institute.

For wine and chocolate to be grouped into the heart-healthy category, you need to be conscious of how much you consume. Here are some tips for consuming these two tasty substances the right way:

Eat dark chocolate: All chocolates are not created equal. While dark chocolate has been shown to lower cholesterol and provide a helpful dose of antioxidants, milk chocolate (and similar varieties) contain much more sugar, and can actually harm your health, not support it. One hundred grams of dark chocolate contains 11 grams of fiber, 58 percent of daily magnesium and 67 percent of daily iron requirements.

Keep consumption moderate: As a general rule, have about one to two drinks, or five to ten ounces, of red wine a day, and just a few squares of dark chocolate. Consuming more puts you at risk of weight gain and health issues.

Pay attention to flavonoids: Flavonoids are plant compounds in some foods. They occur naturally in tea, wine and chocolate and provide many unique health benefits, including the oxidation of low-density lipoproteins. To ensure wine is as heart-healthy as possible, pay attention to the flavonoid content of red wine. Generally, wine varieties like pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, and merlot have the highest flavonoid content.

Don't add extra calories: If you're interested in adding wine and dark chocolate to your diet, let them take the place of other treats to avoid adding calories you don't need.

Focus on creating a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle: To help ensure good heart health for years to come, "think in terms of all good things in moderation," said Dr. Tyree. "Focus on exercise, high vegetable and grain intake, and moderation of high-fat dairy, red meat, easy carbs and treats."

Learn more about HonorHealth Heart and Vascular Institute.

HonorHealth Heart and Vascular Institute

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