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Bittersweet Chocolate Goodness

Posted by bmagnus On March - 31 - 2010

As some of you prepare Easter baskets full of goodies for the kids, some of you may be tempted to sneak a little bit of tasty chocolate for yourself. Don’t worry: German researchers have some good news about chocolate.

The latest study followed over 19,000 adults for 10 years and found that those who ate the most chocolate had lower blood pressure and an amazing 39% reduced risk of both heart attack and stroke. The exciting part is that only 12% of the reduced risk could be directly attributed to lower blood pressure. Previous studies have already demonstrated the positive effect of chocolate on blood pressure. Nevertheless, researchers stress that more study is needed.

But don’t be so quick to snatch that chocolate bunny. Those who ate the most chocolate still only ate an average of 7.5 g daily — that’s not even 2 whole Hershey’s Kisses! The lead scientist, Dr. Brian Buijsse, stressed that “Small amounts of chocolate may help to prevent heart disease, but only if it replaces other energy-dense foods, such as snacks, in order to keep body weight stable.” Another key point is that dark chocolate will have less sugar and more of the flavonoids believed to be the beneficial active ingredient. In a subset of 1600 study participants, it turns out that 24% ate dark chocolate, 57% preferred milk chocolate, and only 2% ate white chocolate.

One exciting detail of this research: it is part of an ongoing study to determine the effects of diet and lifestyle on cancer risk. While it would be far too much to hope that eating chocolate could possibly reduce the risk of cancer, it sure would be nice!

Her Take: We like chocolate. Ok, I love chocolate. Even so, it’s far better to have a little bit of really good chocolate than a whole bunch of mediocre chocolate. Lately, we have become fans of Trader Joe’s 85% cacao The Dark Chocolate Lover’s Chocolate Bar. Sadly, not everyone has a Trader Joe’s nearby, but most large grocery stores can hook you up with the Lindt Excellence 85% Cocoa Bar. Remember these aren’t meant to be eaten at one sitting! Just one square is enough to get the taste and the health benefits.

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