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Dark chocolate the perfect treat for blood donors this Easter

25 March 2013 - 3:32pm

The Australian Red Cross Blood Service (ARCBS) presents the hard facts that while one in three Australians will need blood in their lifetime, only one in 30 will actually donate.

Snacking on dark chocolate could be the key to preventing a national blood shortage this Easter, says the ARCBS.

The blood service 'urgently needs' an extra 8,000 people to give blood this long weekend, with spokesperson Kathy Bowlen adding that dark chocolate contained more iron than milk chocolate and even red meat, making it the 'perfect treat' for potential donors.

Ms Bowlen said that it is important for blood donors to eat iron-rich foods, especially after donating.

"Dark chocolate contains around three times more iron than red meat (based on nutritional information obtained from the USDA National Nutrient Database). And if you have it with a glass
of orange juice, you’ll absorb it better, too," she said.

"This Easter we’ll need all the help we can, so we’re encouraging people to eat dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate, especially if they’re planning on giving blood."

The extra 8,000 people needed to donate blood between March 30 and April 5 is to help ensure that there is enough of the "shortest-lived blood products".

Ms Bowlen said that the products - platelets - are "vital" to the treatment of cancer patients.

"Platelets only last for five days, so we can’t stockpile them, and we’ll be relying on the generosity of people who can spare an hour of their time to donate blood," she said.

"It could mean a lifetime to someone else."

If you are going on holiday this Easter, consider donating blood before you are set to leave.

You may also want to think about reviewing your health insurance policy before leaving home, if you haven't already, with premium increases set to begin on the first day of April

Your health consultant can help you with a private health insurance comparison so that you can discover a plan best suited to your needs.