The Truth About Chocolate: Healthy or Just Heavenly?
Chocolate almost always elicits a positive reaction. Bring brownies for a snack after soccer? You get the team’s awesome parent award. Show up with a box of chocolates for your sweetie? She can’t possibly stay mad. Whip up a chocolate soufflé for a special dessert? Your guests will remember you fondly forever. Now, more and more people are touting chocolate’s health benefits. But what is fact and what is fiction about our favorite of all sweets?
Fact: When you combine chocolate with foods like fruit, nuts, whole grains and Kretschmer Wheat Germ, you add nutrients chocolate can’t provide on its own. In the case of wheat germ, you’ll get a boost of vitamin E and folic acid when combining it with chocolate, as in Chocolate Truffle Pie with Wheat Germ Crust; Chocolate, Pistachio, Dried Cherry and Wheat Germ Bark; and Dark Chocolate Truffles with Wheat Germ.
Fiction: Eating chocolate has been proven to prevent cancer, diabetes, coronary disease and high blood pressure. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), promising research exists noting some correlation between consuming the flavanols found in cocoa and staving off these and other health issues. Recent research also indicates a high intake of cocoa flavanols may help prevent memory loss and improve heart health. Experts agree, however, that more research is needed. They also note that the cocoa and chocolate used in existing studies differ from each other and from the chocolate bars found at the grocery store checkout. Indeed, according to NIH, you’d have to consume 25 chocolate bars a day to reach the level of flavanols consumed in the memory loss study mentioned above! Other studies, however, show that even moderate daily intake of dark chocolate may help reduce blood pressure.
Fact: If you want to eat the chocolate with the most potential benefits, experts say the darker, the better. (Dark chocolate contains 60 percent or more cocoa.) NIH adds that dark chocolate is a preferable choice for dessert than full-fat ice cream or sugar-laden candy.
The good news is research into chocolate’s health benefits continues, fueling the hopes among chocolate lovers that one day chocolate will be discovered to be a miracle cure-all. In the meantime, don’t give up your fruits and vegetables . . . or wheat germ!