Chocolate & Your Health
Chocolate has been enjoyed for more than 2,000 years - celebrated not only for its wonderful and unique taste, but also for its many healthful properties. Chocolate and health research is plentiful(even scientists love chocolate!) and constantly evolving. Learn more about the wonderful world of chocolate and your health.
- Cocoa Butter Fact Sheet* (pdf)
- Chocolate Myths and Facts*
- Chemists discover secret to dark chocolate's health benefits (LA Times, March 2014) - read the PDF here
- Cacao Nibs: Even Better for You than Dark Chocolate (Huffington Post, August 2013) - read the PDF here
- 3 Things You didn't Know about Chocolate (Health.com, April 2014) - read the PDF here
- Dark Chocolate May Make Walking Easier in Peripheral Artery Disease (J of Am Ht Assoc July 2014) - read the original article PDF here
- Why Chocolate is Good for Us (NY Times Well Blog, April 24, 2014)
- Why is Dark Chocolate Good for You? Thank your Microbes (Scientific American online March 19, 2014)
- Chocolate with high Cocoa content as weight-loss accellorator (International Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol 8 #55, 2015) PDF here
CHOCOLATE HEALTH FACTS
Does chocolate cause cavities? Not necessarily. According to a recent study, cacao contains antibacterial agents that actually fight tooth decay. However, most mass-produced chocolate contains sugar, which probably counteracts the benefits of these agents.
Does chocolate cause acne? Not according to studies performed by the Pennsylvania School of Medicine and the U.S. Naval Academy. Eating or not eating chocolate made no difference in the skin condition of the study participants. In fact, most doctors believe that acne is not linked primarily to diet.
Will the caffeine in chocolate make me jittery? Probably not. Cacao does contain a number of stimulants, such as caffeine and theobromine, but in small amounts that are diluted even further when processed into chocolate. In fact, one ounce of milk chocolate contains about the same amount of caffeine as one cup of decaffeinated coffee. Interestingly, one study has shown that the smell of chocolate may actually relax you by increasing theta waves in the brain.
Can chocolate cause headaches? There is little evidence of this, although some studies suggest that chocolate may trigger headaches specifically in migraine sufferers.
Is chocolate an aphrodisiac? Not really. Chocolate contains small amounts of a chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA) that is a mild mood elevator. It’s the same chemical that our brain produces when we feel happy or "in love." The mild "rush" we get from this substance may be why some people say they’re "addicted" to chocolate.
Will chocolate raise my cholesterol levels? Contrary to popular misconception, eating lots of chocolate does not raise blood cholesterol levels. Chocolate contains stearic acid, which is a neutral fat that does not raise bad cholesterol (LDL). Also, the cocoa butter in chocolate contains oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fat. This is the same type of fat found in olive oil that may actually raise good cholesterol (HDL).
Will eating chocolate make me fat? It can—if you eat enough of it. Chocolate, especially milk chocolate, is high in calories. In fact, it was once prescribed to help fatten up patients suffering from wasting diseases like tuberculosis. However, some people claim that drinking a cup of hot chocolate before a meal actually diminishes their appetite. One researcher even experimented with helping patients lose weight by having them sniff a chocolate-scented patch whenever they were tempted to snack!