Chocolate and Heart Health –
Fact or Fallacy?
by Nicholas Webb
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if chocolate and heart health went hand in hand. However,
there is so much information lately about the health benefits of chocolate that it is only natural that people get
It is true, that if people only ate pure cocoa, then there might
be heart health benefits. The problem is that most people eat processed chocolate bars containing sugar, corn
syrup, hydrogenated oils, dairy cream not to mention other “baddies” contained in some of those tasty
fillings. Some of these added ingredients can clog up arteries and create havoc to your
That said, you might be surprised to find out that chocolate isn’t all that bad. In fact, the fat
content in chocolate,
contained in premium grade dark chocolate, is comprised of equal amounts
of oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. Stearic
and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fat – not so good. Saturated fats are linked to increases in
LDL-cholesterol and risk of developing heart disease.
Research indicates that stearic acid appears to have a neutral effect on cholesterol; neither raising nor lowering
LDL-cholesterol levels. Palmitic acid on the other hand, does affect cholesterol levels but only comprises
one-third of the fat calories in chocolate. Therefore, if we base our chocolate eating habits on latest research,
the fat issue isn’t so worrying.
Beware milk chocolate may not be so heart healthy
As with mist things in life, there is also a down-side to chocolate. When we eat milk chocolate or lower grade
chocolate, part of the total fat content comes from milk fat or various other types of fat contained in the
processed chocolate, and not from the pure cocoa, which do adversely affect cholesterol levels.
Despite all the good news on cocoa not raising LDL cholesterol, even dark chocolate is a very calorie-dense food,
so while the fat content may not invite heart disease or clogging of the arteries, its regular consumption will add
a lot of extra calories to someone's daily total. In fact, many chocolate bars list sugar as the number one
ingredient. And as we all know lots of white refined sugar is not going to help you keep your waistline nice and
slim. Remember obesity is a serious risk factor for developing heart disease.
Concerning cholesterol, new and yet-to-be-published studies are showing that some antioxidants contained in
chocolate, in particular dark chocolate and cocoa powder, may actually increase "good" (HDL) cholesterol levels by
as much as 10 percent.
In the studies, the selected people ate 22 grams of cocoa powder and 16 grams of dark chocolate every day The
result: Their "bad" (LDL) cholesterol was less susceptible to oxidation, a process that normally leads to
artery-clogging plaques. While many people take vitamins and other antioxidants to help prevent plaque development,
the study shows that cocoa could help.
In summary, whether chocolate and heart health do walk hand in hand is still an open topic, however, in moderation
it won’t do your heart any harm, however, watch those calories. Most of all, enjoy it cause it tastes so good!
For more heart health related information visit www.AllAbout-Heart-Disease.com - a site that offers user-friendly
articles, tips and advice for avoiding heart disease, getting the edge on risk factors and living your life to the
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