Chocolate May Have Heart Health Benefits

We have said it before, and we will say it again: the science is still out of whether chocolate is a health food. Milk chocolate isn’t a health food at all. Much of the research done on chocolate has been funded by chocolate companies. It’s hard to believe candy is ever going to be good for you. However, new research is shoring up the idea that chocolate may have heart health benefits when eaten sparingly.

Unsweetened chocolate has some proven benefits. It can even help prevent cavities. Its properties aren’t enough to counteract sugar, but when eaten by itself, it can help fight oral bacteria. But what about commercially available chocolate?

Researchers from different institutions, including the Mayo and Cleveland clinics, wanted to know if there was a link between coronary artery disease and chocolate. By reviewing six studies’ findings, they believe that eating chocolate can lower a person’s risk. Folks who ate chocolate once a week were less likely to suffer from coronary artery disease than people who rarely ate chocolate. Unfortunately, they aren’t sure how much is beneficial.

Moderate amounts of chocolate seem to protect the coronary arteries but it’s likely that large quantities do not,” said Dr. Chayakrit Krittanawong, co-author of the study and physician at Baylor College of Medicine. “The calories, sugar, milk, and fat in commercially available products need to be considered, particularly in diabetics and obese people.”

It is more than likely that a lot of chocolate would have a detrimental impact because of too much sugar, fat and an excess of calories. All three of those factors are linked to a higher risk of heart disease and other illnesses. Dark chocolates, with higher levels of polyphenols and less sugar and fat, are most likely your best options.  

The researchers had a wealth of information to go through. The six international studies had examined 336,289 people. When you have that many participants, it’s easier to see real patterns and not just individual results. However, they did concede that there may be some factors they missed. Because it was international, they may be losing some information about lifestyle. For instance, people in Switzerland love chocolate but also have very active, fit lifestyles. It could be that the lifestyle factors worldwide play a significant role, not just chocolate consumption.

We still need more information. But, this may make you feel more comfortable to enjoy chocolate once a week. It’s not the health food many people claim it to be — especially milk chocolate. However, when enjoyed as a treat in a balanced diet, it may offer some health perks!
July 28, 2020

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