In honor of heart health month, our office has been running a trivia raffle centered around protecting your heart.
One of the “gimmie” questions is true or false: Dark chocolate is good for your health.
Most of the answers we got from patients were correct. It seems that most of us are aware of the health benefits of chocolate, but seem hesitant to make it a normal part of a daily routine for fear of too many calories and weight gain.
This is the time for me to clarify that many, if not all, of the studies done on chocolate do not differentiate between dark and milk chocolate. I would suggest that this is a huge mistake since milk chocolate is so far removed from the cacao bean that gives it all the health benefits as to be junk food. High cacao content dark chocolate, on the other hand, shines when it comes to protecting our health. This means that, when studies focus on all types of chocolate, any benefits shown in the study is probably non-existent for milk chocolate and much stronger for dark chocolate.
Take that into account as we go over this particular study. In it, researchers looked at a group of 7,802 participants based on chocolate intake and later risk of diabetes. A serving size of chocolate was defined as a 1 ounce portion, or about 1/3 to over half of a typical candy bar, depending on the brand. Here’s the details:
- Groups were broken up into less than monthly, 1–4 times/month, 2–6 times/week and at least daily.
- Those eating chocolate 1-4 times / month had a 13% lower risk of diabetes.
- 2-6 times / week had a 34% lower risk.
- Those eating chocolate at least daily had a 18% lower risk.
Keep in mind that this is one of those studies that did not differentiate between dark and milk chocolate intake, so it’s likely that dark chocolate would have been far more protective if we looked at this study with just dark chocolate intake. Likewise, as far as quantity and frequency, I personally think that an ounce of dark chocolate per day (two decent sized squares or so) is a very good idea.
If the darker chocolates are too bitter for you, consider finding bars that have fruits mixed in like blueberries and pomegranates. Not only do you get the benefit of the chocolate, but you’re also getting the protective factors from these super-berries as well. Not too shabby.