Can chocolate be good for you?

Chocolate

Content provided by www.HealthBytesNYC.com

Whether in the form of a hot beverage to keep the winter chill at bay or as delicious candies received as gifts for Valentine’s Day, it would seem that chocolate holds a special place in everyone’s heart this time of year—perhaps year-round if you fashion yourself a chocoholic! There have also been several reports in recent years regarding the health benefits of chocolate, music to the ears of chocolate lovers everywhere. In spite of these health benefits, it is still quite a stretch to say that chocolate is good for you.

So, what about chocolate may provide health benefits?
It is less about chocolate and more about the cocoa bean from which it is produced. Cocoa beans are rich in compounds known as flavonoids. Flavonoids are a class of naturally occurring chemical components of a variety of plants, including the cocoa bean, which have been reported to have a variety of effects on human health, including:

• Acting as antioxidants to prevent and/or reverse cell damage and inflammation throughout the body;
• Improving insulin sensitivity;
• Decreasing cardiovascular risk factors by decreasing blood pressure, improving blood flow through blood vessels, reducing the LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing HDL (good) cholesterol.

Chocolate—still not quite health food.
An important, and often overlooked, detail regarding the studies behind the reports is that these effects are seen with high concentrations of flavonoid extracts. Although the unprocessed cocoa bean has significant quantities of these compounds, chocolate as it is typically available to most consumers—chocolate bars, candy bars, processed cocoa mix and the like—contains significantly lower quantities of flavonoids, due to losses during the manufacturing process. One would have to eat a large amount of chocolate products daily to obtain similar effects—effects that would certainly be negated by the immense quantity of additional sugar and fat one would also be consuming.

The bottom line…
It would be premature to recommend increasing chocolate consumption to obtain the benefits of the flavonoids it contains. Dark chocolate is marginally better in terms of flavonoid content than milk chocolate, but is still by no means a good source. Due to high sugar, fat and calorie content, chocolate products should be an occasional treat. My personal recommendation would be one 1.5-ounce chocolate bar or one cup of hot chocolate no more than twice a month. If one really wants to eat a flavonoid-rich diet, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables is highly recommended, particularly berries, apples, citrus fruits, cabbages and legumes.

Information provided by Simone Walters, MS, RD, Clinical Nutritionist at Beth Israel Medical Center.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

'Barack Obama cheats on Michelle' claims Japanese politician…

A senior Japanese politician has marred Barack Obama's official visit to Tokyo with bizarre claims that the President cheats on his wife Michelle. Kazuyuki Hamada,…

International

British Royal family devastated by freak NY death…

The British royals have been left devastated by the death of Mark Shand, younger brother of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, after a freak fall in…

Local

VIDEO: Police seek suspect in molotov cocktail attack…

Police released surveillance video on Wednesday in hopes of tracking down a man who threw a molotov cocktail inside a Brooklyn corner store.

Local

City Council budget asks for 1,000 additional NYPD…

Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito unveiled the City Council's budget priorities on Wednesday, including the extra cops for the NYPD at a cost of $94.3 million.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 9

It was only an hour-long episode, but there's a lot to cover this week. The drama of Survivor strikes again as the identity of the…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, April 23: 'Suburgatory,' 'Modern…

'Suburgatory' The men of "Suburgatory" go camping and Tessa mentors a social outcast in a Miss Chatswin contest, which brings her, once again, into conflict…

The Word

The best lines from Oprah's ex-stepmother's Daily Mail…

Oprah’s ex-stepmother, Barbara Winfrey, is out for revenge.

Books

A debut novel about fate, love and moving…

Pia Padukone talks about her debut novel, "Where Earth Meets Water."

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

NFL

Giants 2014 regular season schedule

The Giants will play five prime-time games — against the Lions, Redskins, Eagles, Colts and Cowboys.

MLB

Jets 2014 regular season schedule

The Jets will play three prime-time games — against the Bears, Patriots and Dolphins — as well as a CBS national game in Week 2 at Green Bay.

NBA

Phil Jackson talked to Steve Kerr, pushes for…

Knicks president Phil Jackson spoke to the media for the first time since firing head coach Mike Woodson on Monday.

Style

Pippa Middleton's Etsy pick: Golden Thread Jewelry

Get a look at the jewelry Pippa Middleton loves and find out how you can buy it too.

Parenting

What every parent needs to know to get…

Mom and author of "Small Talk," Tracey Blake, shares her five practical tips to help you develop your children's language skills.

Sex

Subway crush: Meet your soulmate on your commute

Read about a couple who has been 40 years after meeting on the train.

Tech

Happy birthday, Game Boy! The handheld console turns…

Nintendo's Game Boy turns 25 this week. To commemorate, we look at some of its better games, like "Tetris" and "The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening."