Proof That Chocolate’s Good For Your Heart?

February 29, 2012

In the last six months several meta-studies (studies analyzing aggregated data from past studies) have come out to say that yes, eating chocolate appears to have a beneficial effect on the heart.

For people with hypertension or pre-hypertension, it lowers blood pressure, it can also lower cholesterol levels, and seems to lower the overall risk for heart disease.

But there’s a catch (there always is).

First, none of these trials are comparing chocolate’s effects to heart medicine or other treatments. It doesn’t lower blood pressure enough to replace medicine, and it lowers all cholesterol levels, not just bad or LDL cholesterol.

Second, the main ingredient in chocolate responsible for heart health—flavanoids, a type of antioxidant found in plants—wasn’t tested by itself, so it’s hard to eliminate some of the remaining variables (is a gene tied to enjoying chocolate also tied to better heart health?). Also, chocolate isn’t compared to other polyphenol rich foods.

And finally, most of the chocolate that people eat is loaded with milk fats and sugar, and may also have other additions like candied nuts, caramel, creams, and fruit syrups. So don’t run out and buy a box of candy to cure heart disease.

If you do want to add chocolate to your diet in the hopes that these studies are right about its benefits, the best source is natural (non-processed, processing often removes flavonoids) cocoa powder. If you don’t like dark chocolate, or want to avoid the extra calories, you can find a supplement with flavonoids like Triple Strength Antioxidant, from Colloids for Life.

Excited about these studies? Let us know in the comments.

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