Dark Chocolate and Warfarin

We embrace the news that something that we enjoy may actually be good for us. First we learned that a moderate intake of red wine has benefits to cardiovascular health. Enter dark chocolate in the good news column.

Blood Pressure: A study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found blood pressure was reduced by eating one bar of dark chocolate.1 Dark chocolate contains flavinoids, a natural antioxidant.

Cholesterol: A reduction in cholesterol was found in a study of 67 patients with high cholesterol. Study patients consumed 2 snack bars of 1.5 grams of plant sterols for six weeks. Patients showed a 4.7% reduction in total cholesterol, 6% of LDL (bad cholesterol) and an increase in HDL (good cholesterol).

Is dark chocolate safe for warfarin patients? Dark chocolate may delay blood clotting, which may be helpful for patients with blood vessels narrowed by cardiovascular disease, according to a recent study by scientists at Johns Hopkins. The study, however, was not designed to evaluate chocolate's effect. It was designed to look for genetic factors that identify which patients respond best to aspirin therapy to reduce blood clotting with a slightly elevated risk of heart disease. The participants were not taking anticoagulants and were told to not eat chcoloate. The study found a slower clotting time and actual platelet suppression in the people who admitted eating chocolate.

The safety of dark chocolate is relative. The potential increase in bleeding time suggests patients taking warfarin should have their INR checked more frequently when starting or stopping dark chocolate. Do not consider dark chocolate off limits, the benefits of dark chocolate are well documented and too few products we enjoy have cardio-protective properties. You should discuss any diet changes with your doctor.

Dark chocolate is not without its share of calories. 3 squares (1.5 ounces or 1 serving) of an average dark chocolate bar is approx. 180 calories, so enjoy within moderation.

  1. Hypertension. Archives of Internal Medicine. August 2005.