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Sep/Oct 2011
12
HEALTHY
CHOCOLATE
DREAM OR REALITY?
ASK THE EXPERT
CAN
BE GOOD FOR
HEALTH?
CHOCOLATE
Healthy chocolate
sounds like a dream
come true, but
chocolate hasn’t
gained the status
of health food quite
yet. Still, chocolate’s
reputation is on the
rise, as a growing
number of studies
suggest that it can
be a heart-healthy
choice.
Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
Chocolate and its
main ingredient,
cocoa, appear to
reduce risk factors for
heart disease.
Flavanols in cocoa beans have
antioxidant effects that reduce cell
damage implicated in heart disease.
Flavanols also help lower blood pressure
and improve vascular function. Dark
chocolate contains more Flavanols than
does milk chocolate. One caveat: The
evidence for the healthy benefts of
Flavanol-rich chocolate comes mostly
from short-term and uncontrolled
studies. More research will be needed to
confrm chocolate’s role in heart health.
In the meantime, if you want to
add chocolate to your diet, do so in
moderation. Why? Most commercial
chocolate has ingredients that add fat,
sugar and calories. And too much can
contribute to weight gain, a risk factor
for high blood pressure, heart disease
and diabetes.
Choose dark chocolate with cocoa
content of 65 percent or higher. Limit
yourself to no more than 3 ounces (85
grams) a day, which is the amount
shown in studies to be helpful. Because
this amount may provide up to 450
calories, you may want to cut calories
in other areas or step up the exercise to
compensate.