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Small Changes You Can Make To Be More Heart Healthy





Northwestern Medicine expert says eating right and being active is the real formula for success

CHICAGO, Feb. 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Do more. Eat right. Know your numbers. It can't be that simple, right? Northwestern Medicine® cardiologist Clyde Yancy, MD says it is that simple, and has some other little known facts that can help all of us improve our heart health. 

While many of us may be focused on maintaining New Year's resolutions after overindulging during the numerous festivities of the holiday season, Dr. Yancy says there are some treats to be enjoyed throughout the year, if done in moderation and part of an overall healthy diet.

"Chocolate can be healthy because it's rich with cocoa and flavonoids," explained Yancy, who is chief of cardiology at Northwestern's Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute. "The cocoa increases blood flow, which can help mood and maybe even make you smarter, and flavonoids reduce inflammation, promoting healthy arteries and help fight aging by preventing and repairing cellular damage."

Flavonoids may also protect against dementia, Alzheimer's disease and some cancers. Before rushing off  to eat a pound of dark chocolate, Yancy reminds us that moderation is the key. While chocolate may have healthy components, the high levels of sugar and fat can be detrimental to heart health if consumed in high quantities.

Another surprisingly heart healthy item is wine, red or white, but Yancy says it is likely not because of the alcohol. "A substance in wine known as resveratrol, which is found in the skins and seeds of grapes, may possess a number of benefits that protect the heart," said Yancy. Since red wines often have extended contact time with the grape's skins, they will naturally have higher levels of resveratrol. But, white wines also have healthy elements. Again, moderation is the key issue – too much wine will limit any health benefits of moderate consumption.

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