Research shows that a plant-based diet can improve heart health. You don’t need to go completely vegan, however – evidence suggests that foods like cheese, chocolate, and yogurt have benefits as well.
Eating fatty dairy products in moderation may help protect your heart, according to a study published July 6 in Cardiovascular Research.
Researchers from the University of Naples reviewed nearly 100 studies on the relationship between
risk and dietary habits. They focused on specific food categories such as red meat, poultry, eggs, dairy products, foods, nuts, and grains.
Their results indicate that regular consumption of yogurt and a small amount of cheese can reduce the risk of heart disease, possibly due to the fermentation process associated with these foods. A small amount of chocolate also reduces the risk of heart disease.
Dairy products are good for the heart, even fatty ones.
The researchers found that eating up to 200 grams of dairy per day was not associated with an increased risk of heart disease, although data on high intake is limited.
Contrary to old theories that high levels of saturated fat are dangerous for heart health, current research has shown that certain types of dairy products have protective effects.
For example, people who ate at least one 200-gram serving or three-quarters of a glass of yogurt a day had a lower risk of heart disease than people who did not consume yogurt.
Cheese has also been found to be healthy in moderation, up to 50 grams (about two and a half slices or a third of a cup of grated cheese) per day.
A little chocolate every day can protect your heart.
The study also found a small but significant link between regular chocolate consumption and a slightly lower risk of heart disease.
Eating 20 to 45 grams of chocolate a day, half to a whole 1.5 ounce bar of chocolate, has been found to provide the most benefits. More food was not associated with better heart health.
However, researchers recommend 10 grams of chocolate a day to avoid eating too much added sugar or excess calories, which can counteract the health benefits of your heart.
Evidence points to certain compounds in cocoa called flavonoids that are linked to the heart health benefits of chocolate.
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