I am a self-professed choc-a-holic. Give me a bar of good quality dark chocolate and I am a happy woman. Many of my patients ask me if dark chocolate is better than milk or white chocolate and I decided to do a little research
Turns out it is!
In 2006, the Journal of Internal Medicine had a study where men ate 2.25 grams per day of dark chocolate and had slightly lower blood pressure. They also found these men were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease than men who ate lower amounts or none at all.
In 2008, the Journal of Nutrition published a study that showed dark chocolate can significantly reduce inflammation that leads to heart disease. Researchers found that eating 6.7 grams (0.23 grams) per day kept C-reactive protein levels in check. They did not find the same results with milk chocolate.
Dark chocolate contains high amounts of flavonoids which are antioxidants like those found in the skins of berries. More specifically, researchers looked at catechins and epicatechins which are also found in grapes and green tea. It is believed that these components lower plaque build-up in the arteries and help improve the cells that line your blood vessels.
While doing a little more snooping, it appears that the Food and Drug Administration has very strict guidelines for ‘milk’ and ‘white’ chocolate but not for ‘dark’ chocolate.
A quick peek at Wikipedia (who doesn’t love a wiki search?) shows that ‘dark” chocolate is made by mixing fat and sugar to cocao. One must NOT use any milk products as an additive and ‘dark’ does not have nearly as much sugar as the other types. Also, semisweet and bittersweet evidently do not count towards your daily quota of cardiovascular prevention however one can find them in 60% and 65% cocao content so it’s debatable.
The question becomes … do I allow patients to have a tiny bit of chocolate everyday? I vote ‘yes’ as long as it’s strictly a tiny amount and it’s a high percentage dark chocolate.