Magazine article Work & Family Life

Jury's out on Health Benefits of Chocolate

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Jury's out on Health Benefits of Chocolate

Article excerpt

After researchers reported high levels of antioxidants in cocoa, candy makers have had a field day marketing "heart . healthy" chocolate treats. Have the health benefits of eating chocolate been exaggerated? So it would seem.

On the one hand, it's true that cocoa seeds are rich in antioxidants called flavonols, a natural compound that protects the body against cell damage and the formation of plaque. But not all cocoa is the same. It varies based on growing conditions, geographic origin and manufacturing methods. Plus, the antioxidant content of even the best cocoa decreases during processing and is further diluted in candy - which is why milk chocolate contains fewer flavonols than dark and white chocolate has none.

The big question is: Do the antioxidants remaining in chocolate translate into real health benefits? Some research suggests that they may.

For example, a study reported in the journal Heart found that smokers who ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate had improved blood flow through their arteries. …

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