Recently studies show that chocolate, caffeine, and milk products have a direct effect on the cardiovascular system. These products increase the level of “bad cholesterol” and reduce the levels of “good cholesterol”. The lowering of the “good cholesterol” may cause heart attacks, stroke, and inflammation in the arteries that supply blood to the heart. The result is heart disease that can kill hundreds of heart patients each year. These same studies have shown that saturated fats from foods like beef, pork, and poultry may increase a heart attack or stroke risk.
Other saturated fats that may increase risk include partially hydrogenated vegetable oils (PVC), polyunsaturated fats, trans fats, and polyunsaturated animal fats. All of these fats are not only bad for your heart, but they also contain compounds that may be harmful to the liver. This may lead to alcoholic liver disease or cirrhosis. Cocoa, peanuts, alcohol, and dairy products all seem to exacerbate this problem. It seems as if the more saturated fats you eat the more likely you are to develop heart disease.
You are not alone in this dilemma. Most nutritionists recommend that the majority of us eat no more than twenty to thirty percent of our daily calories from saturated fat. While there are many different diets to lose weight and keep the pounds off, most only focus on reducing the consumption of saturated fat. Studies have shown that restricting the consumption of fat is a good way to prevent heart disease. Alcohol and caffeine seem to worsen the problem of heart disease. It has long been known that heart patients who drink at least two drinks a day tend to have larger livers.
Doctors believe that this fat accumulation increases the risk of developing fatty liver disease. Other studies show that individuals who consume more than ten cups of coffee a day have increased levels of cortisol, which can mimic the symptoms of heart disease. Both of these substances are highly inflammatory, thus increasing the likelihood of heart disease. It would seem as though drinking chocolate, and other sugary foods should be avoided by heart patients.
In one study, patients who combined milk with chocolate decreased their LDL (bad) cholesterol by 17 percent. It is believed that the fat in milk reduces the amount of “bad” cholesterol in the body. However, it has also been shown that high amounts of LDL cholesterol can lead to heart disease. Individuals should choose to drink no less than two cups of chocolate per day, but there is no clear-cut conclusion as to what amount is the safest.
Both coffee and alcohol seem to interfere with the process of how fat is absorbed into the body. Caffeine speeds up the rate at which fat cells reproduce while alcohol slows down the process. Also, both alcohol and caffeine seem to slow down the production of serotonin, the substance that regulates feelings of pleasure. These substances all play a role in heart health.