Dark chocolate may help improve cholesterol levels, according to a study published in the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association" in 2006. Another study, published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in 2005 found that chocolate may also improve blood sugar control and blood pressure. However, not all types of chocolate provide equal benefits, and there are also disadvantages to eating even the healthier dark chocolate.
Chocolate contains caffeine, although not as much as coffee, so you shouldn't consume large amounts if you need to limit your caffeine intake. It is also high in both fat and calories. However, about a third of the fat is the healthy monounsaturated type, and another third is stearic acid, which doesn't affect cholesterol levels, leaving only a third of the fat, the palmitic acid, to increase your cholesterol. Many chocolates are also filled with unhealthy fillings consisting mainly of sugar and fat, making them less than healthy choices.
Dark chocolate contains more of the actual cocoa bean than milk chocolate. Cocoa beans contain flavonoids which are antioxidants that can protect cells from damage that can lead to disease. White chocolate, which isn't actually chocolate since it doesn't contain any cocoa, is only sugar and cocoa butter, so it doesn't contain any flavonols. Choose the dark chocolate that is the least processed and contains the highest cocoa content for the most health benefits.
White chocolate with sugary fillings is the worst option, since it is loaded with fat and sugar and doesn't contain the beneficial flavonoids. A 39-gram serving of white chocolate contains 250 calories, 19 grsms of fat and 17 grams of sugar. Milk chocolate isn't all that great either, since a 40-gram serving contains 230 calories, 15 grams of fat and 20 grams of sugar, and milk may neutralize the beneficial effects of the minimal amounts of flavonoids it contains.
Even when choosing the healthiest types of chocolate, you should only eat them in moderation. Stick to about an ounce a few times a week to try to take advantage of the health benefits without adding a lot of fat and calories to your diet, recommends the Cleveland Clinic.
- Fitness Magazine; Three Cheers for Chocolate; Jocelyn Voo; November 2007
- BBC News; Chocolate 'Has Health Benefits'; March 22, 2005
- Cleveland Clinic; Heart-Health Benefits of Chocolate Unveiled; February 2010
- University of Alabama Birmingham; Chocolate (Health Benefits); May 19, 2010
- CBC News; Chocolate-The Bittersweet Treat; Michelle Gelok; July 4, 2007
- Lindt & Sprungli (USA) Inc.: Lindor White Truffles Singles Bar Nutrition Facts
- chocolate. chocolate block. chocolate bar image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.