In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm also a chocolate drinker, so I'm not happy about that either. Although I have never been fooled to think of chocolate as a healthy food, to say that it is rich in antioxidant kale, I believed – thanks to many published studies – that even a square dark chocolate definitely has some health benefits.
When I did a search on the Internet, I found many articles that said exactly that, including Healthline's "7 Proven Chocolate Benefits of Chocolate" and "Cleveland Clinic Heart Chocolate Benefits." Articles like these (and many others) report that chocolate can reduce the risk of some cancers, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
I even read that dark chocolate reduces the risk of depression and that it counts ̵
1; along with nuts, avocados and blueberries – as "superfood. "
Although we exaggerate things, there have been other studies that suggest that chocolate can increase the risk of other cancers and we would be fools not to know that eating too much can lead to obesity (and difficult (19659002] As a journalist, I know better than to believe everything I read, especially if it melts in my mouth. So I did a little research to get to the bottom of the question: is chocolate healthy?
I read Nestle (which has no connection with the candy maker) the leading paragraph of the article, which reads in part: "The reputation of chocolate is on the rise as more and more studies suggest that this may be a healthy choice for the heart . "
She stopped me right there to note that not chocolate but flavanols in chocolate could have potential benefits. Flavanols are abundant in cocoa beans, which give cocoa powder, which is then used to make chocolate, she said.
To be fair, although an enticing title, Mayo's article actually focuses on the benefits of flavanols, not chocolate, in particular their "antioxidant effects that reduce cellular damage related to heart disease." ,, [and] also help to lower blood pressure and improve vascular function. "But will readers understand that the amount of flavanols in a chocolate bar is not nearly enough to affect their health? No, Nestle said with obvious annoyance, "You'll have to eat a lot of chocolate to change."
Nestle told me that if I eat more chocolate to increase my flavanol intake, I consume a lot more calories and fat, which it will also be bad for my health. This is because cocoa, rich in flavanol, has a bitter taste, so candy makers add a lot of fat and sugars to create a commercial – tasty – chocolate.
A recent study reports that "higher levels of chocolate consumption may be associated with this, a third reduction in the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. "That sounds like great news, but the study authors said these benefits would require 'excessive consumption', with the likely side effect of 'weight gain, a risk factor for hypertension, diabetes and dyslipidemia', which increases the likelihood of clogged arteries and heart attacks, stroke or other circulatory problems, especially in smokers.
Alice Liechtenstein, Professor of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, also stated that "the data does not support the use of [chocolate] as healthy food." Why do so many people think it is? "It sounds great, so I think people like to repeat it," she said.
Liechtenstein is critical of many studies, which reminded me that they tend to go out just before Valentine's Day, our national chocolate day. They "lack plausibility" and are predominantly "observational," she said, meaning they can show that two variables are related but cannot prove cause and effect.
As an example, Liechtenstein cited a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that showed "a very strong correlation between chocolate consumption per capita and the number of Nobel Prizes awarded in each country. Does this mean that the more chocolate you eat, the more likely you are to win the Nobel Prize?
I certainly hoped, but Liechtenstein fulfilled my dream: "Obviously not." Correlation is not a cause-and-effect relationship, she said, a fallacy many people don't understand. Eating more chocolate will not make you smarter or increase your chances of winning the Nobel Prize.
Further shattering my hopes, Liechtenstein said there were some studies "that suggest biological effects, but these studies were done in high concentrations" of flavanols. To note, she told me about a study in the journal Nature Neuroscience, which concluded that people who consume high doses of cocoa flavanols perform much better on a memory test than those on a low flavanol mixture. Lele, I thought. But then she added that one would need to eat about "seven medium sized bars" every day to consume enough flavanol for this possible benefit.
It turned out that this study had other problems, in particular that it had partial funding from Mars, the chocolate company.
Marion Nestle said it was not an isolated incident. Chocolate makers have long funded research that seeks to determine the health benefits of chocolate. The 2018 Vox report on more than 100 Mars-funded studies finds great illuminating conclusions about cocoa and chocolate – promoting everything from the health benefits of chocolate heart to the ability of cocoa to fight disease.
"I'm not impressed with the research that shows this [when] is funded by industry," Nestle says. "It's very difficult to take seriously." So take these studies with a grain of salt – but it may not be another square of chocolate.
To conclude my "investigation," I spoke with Catherine Zeracki, a registered nutritionist and licensed nutritionist at the Mayo Clinic, and author of "Can Chocolate Benefit My Health?"
Did I ask? "I think that's possible," she said. "It's like so many other foods, it probably depends on how it is consumed, how much it is consumed. ,,, "From there, she quickly referred to the important difference between cocoa beans and chocolate, noting that Nestlé was earlier that flavanol-rich cocoa beans were" potentially health promoting "rather than chocolate. (A spokesman for the Mayo Clinic told me that "their content is in no way influenced by benefactors and donations to the Mayo Clinic.")
There is this problem again: with every pleasant mouth, cocoa beans in chocolate offer small additional doses flavanols – which are good for you – but much more extra fat, sugar and calories – that are bad. This is not a healthy fight.
And what do we have to do about chocolate? First, stop thinking of chocolate as "healthy." Nestlé said he was eating dark chocolate with nuts, but it was clearly a treat.
"It's candy and candy has a place in American diets," she said. "This place is temperate."
Zeracki urged people to look for chocolate that is 65 percent or higher made from cocoa, "where we can see some health benefits." That means only dark chocolate because milk is chocolate doesn't have that much cocoa, which is the way we measure 'dark'.
She also recommended that we adhere to chocolate intake up to the limit of the American Heart Association's discretionary calories – about 100 calories per day or one square of dark chocolate. This gives about 140 milligrams of flavanols, below the level at which you are likely to get health benefits. Enjoy it as I do, but know it is handwriting.
Okay, now you can drop me.
Here's a closer look at this pastry
Here's your basic chocolate analysis.
All chocolate bars and syrup are made from cocoa beans, also called cocoa, which is the dried and fermented seed of Theobroma cacao which consists of cocoa solids and butter. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans, which, if you've ever bitten it, you know it's bitter. Very bitter.
When it comes to labeling chocolate, this is done with a percentage such as "45 percent cocoa" or "70 percent cocoa".
In 70 percent of the bar, which is dark chocolate, more than two-thirds of the content is extracted from the beans, the beans being precise and the rest consisting of sugar, cocoa butter or vegetable oil. This makes dark chocolate candies less sweet on our palates than milk chocolates, but it also makes them less unhealthy (which is not the same as healthy).
In contrast, milk chocolate has a lower percentage of cocoa beans than dark – and a higher percentage of cocoa butter and sugar – along with milk powder or condensed milk. White chocolate does not usually contain cocoa powder – but lots of butter / butter, sugar and milk – which is why many people rightly claim that white chocolate is an oxymoron.
These are those cocoa beans in chocolate that provide small doses of flavanols that have some health benefits. So how much chocolate do we have to consume to get this benefit?