Eating Chocolate Is Healthy, Doctors Say : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Monday September 3 7:45 AM ET

Eating Chocolate Is Healthy, Doctors Say By Patricia Reaney

GLASGOW, Scotland (Reuters) - Good news for chocoholics. The treat favored by millions not only tastes delicious but is healthy for you, American researchers said on Monday.

Chocolate contains compounds called flavonoids that can help maintain a healthy heart and good circulation and reduce blood clotting -- which can cause heart attacks and strokes. ``More and more, we are finding evidence that consumption of chocolate that is rich in flavonoids can have positive cardiovascular effects,'' Carl Keen, a nutritionist at the University of California, Davis, told a science conference. ``We not only have observed an increase in antioxidant capacity after chocolate consumption, but also modulation of certain compounds which affect blood vessels.''

Antioxidants are substances that help reduce the damage of cancer-causing charged particles in the body. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains are high in antioxidant vitamins such as C and E.


Flavonoids in chocolate are derived from cocoa, which is rich in the compounds. Research has shown that a small bar of dark chocolate contains as many flavonoids as six apples, 4.5 cups of tea, 28 glasses of white wine and two glasses of red.

But Dr. Harold Schmitz said there were variations in the levels of flavonoids in chocolate and cocoa products depending on the production process, in which many flavonoids are destroyed. ``All chocolates are not created equal in regards to flavonoid content,'' Schmitz, a scientist with confectionery maker Mars Inc, told a news conference. Flavonoids are thought to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, the number one killer in many industrialized countries, by reducing platelet aggregation -- when blood platelets combine into a sticky mass and form clots.

Keen and his colleagues measured the impact of chocolate on platelets in the blood in 25 volunteers. They presented their findings to the British Association for the Advancement of Science conference in Glasgow. The researchers collected blood samples from volunteers who ate 25 grams (0.9 ounces) of chocolate with a high flavonoid content and other volunteers who ate bread. They took blood samples from both groups two and six hours after they ate the chocolate and bread to measure their platelet activation. Volunteers who consumed the chocolate had lower levels of platelet activity, which would reduce the probability of having a blood clot. The scientists found no change in the group that ate the bread.

Keen said the results of the study support earlier research showing that cocoa acts like low-dose aspirin which helps to reduce blood clotting. But he warned that eating chocolate should not be substituted for taking low dose aspirin because they work through different mechanism in the body. ``These results lead us to believe that chocolate may contribute to a healthy, well-balanced diet,'' Keen added.

Up to 300 scientists are presenting research on subjects ranging from genetics and microbiology to global warming and organic farming during the five-day conference.

-- Rich Marsh (, September 03, 2001


This is great news for my wife who can never choke enough chocolate into her diet.

-- Buck (, September 03, 2001.

I think I will go and pig out on a giant Hershey bar I have been saving for some time right now.

-- Nancy7 (, September 03, 2001.

I like, I think, right here and now I will establish a new daily diet....a Mounds bar for breakfast, a Nestle's Sweet Success cholcale milk drink for lunch, and a giant hot fudge sundae for dinner. If I am still hungry at bed time I will top it off with a Hershy's dark chocolate candy bar as a night cap.

-- R2D2 (, September 03, 2001.

I have a cousin that always swore chocolate was good for the heart, and ate plenty of it to prove her point. Maybe she is right. Maybe she would be dead by now, rather than only needing a 3-stage bypass.

-- Chance (, September 03, 2001.

Darn, hate to be the bearer of bad news fo you chocolate lovers, but seems like shaky research to me.

The conclusion is based on a small clinical trial of 24 volunteers who ate 25 grams of chocolate a day - equivalent to a small bar.

Preliminary trial results, which have yet to appear in a scientific journal, found that eating chocolate appeared to delay the onset of blood clotting.

Professor Keen, whose work is sponsored by the chocolate maker Mars, said the results led him to believe that chocolate may contribute to a healthy, well-balanced diet. ewsid_1521000/1521982.stm

-- Martin Thompson (, September 03, 2001.

Good work, Martin. Always check the source of funding for the "researchers." Knew there had to be a catch somewhere; the news was just too good to be true. :(

-- Rachel Gibson (, September 03, 2001.

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