Is Eating Dark Chocolate Really Good for People's Health?


Last night, I had a couple of dark chocolate bars, had a really good time and this morning, the newspapers gave me an excuse to further indulge in it. A recent study declares that two chocolate bars per day lower blood cholesterol and systolic blood pressure levels. In detail, bad cholesterol declines by 5.3% and total cholesterol goes down by 2% due to the plant sterols that is added to the bar. The decline in blood pressure, on the other hand, was attributed to the favonols found in dark chocolate.

The study had 49 volunteers with slightly elevated blood cholesterol but normal blood pressure levels divided into 2 groups. One group was fed chocolates with Sterol and the other was given chocolates without it. For 8 weeks, the volunteers' vital signs were monitored and a significant improvement was found in the first group. The newspaper report made no mention of possible weight gains.

Looking further, I stumbled into two articles. One was written by Anne Chekal, a well credentialed professional writer and the other was from Reuters news agency. Both articles referred to an earlier study that made use of just a small bite (6.8 grams or 25 ounces) a day for each volunteer. The research also used the cheapest brands provided that it had at least 50% cocoa. For reference purposes, the quantity used was slightly bigger than a Hershey's kiss. According to the earlier study, the participants registered a marked improvement in blood pressure without weight increase after 18 weeks. They experienced a 3 point drop in systolic blood pressure and corresponding 2 points in diastolic blood pressure without an increase in body weight, cholesterol or blood sugar.

Do we now have enough reason to include huge packs of dark chocolate in our grocery list? My mom who loves that old Philippine chocolate recipe would surely love that. She has been looking for an excuse to buy sweets since my brother has been watching her food intake like a jail guard.

Anne Chekal cautions that trumpeting chocolates as a health food gives most people the impression that it is fine to indulge in it.

However, she quickly points out that an examination of a few brands of dark chocolate showed that 28~30 grams would normally contain 200~210 calories. That is quite alarming for US government records show that an excess of 100 calories per day can possibly result to 10 lbs of weight gain per year. We all know what weight gain can do. Here in the Philippines, a lot of people die from health problems related to excess weight.

The lesson perhaps is that we should read and analyze news reports properly and not to rely on the news titles and what the writer highlights. As pour moi’, a daily dose of chocolates is good but an old saying still applies, “Everything in moderation”.

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