Chocolate Myths Debunked

October 31, 2019

© Mikael Damkier | Dreamstime

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Most, if not all, trick-or-treat bags will contain the food of the Gods, better known as chocolate. The chocolate market is a more than $17 billion industry in the United States alone, and the average American eats at least half a pound of the confectionery every month. In recent years it has become the darling of nutritionists as health benefit after health benefit has been revealed, most notably, that it lowers the risk of stroke and heart attacks. Yet, it’s long been the negatively linked in any number of scenarios, including acne, weight gain and high cholesterol. So should we embrace it as a miracle food, or shun it as a deleterious delight? Here are some common chocolate myths to review and see if they are indeed true. If you’ve given up chocolate in the name of lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol, you may have been unwittingly sacrificing the sweet treat for nothing. While it’s true that chocolate contains cocoa butter, which is high in saturated fat, much of the fat comes from stearic acid, which doesn’t act like saturated fat. Studies have shown that chocolate does not raise bad cholesterol, and in fact for some people, chocolate can lower cholesterol levels. The sugar in chocolate causes hyperactivity. This too has been a long-held belief, but more than a dozen good-quality studies have failed to find any link between sugar in children's diets and hyperactive behavior. Two theories: It’s the environment that creates the excitability (birthday parties, holidays, etc.) and/or that the connection is simply in the minds of the parents expecting hyper behavior following sugar-fueled revelries. More so that hyper behavior may be caused by the caffeine in chocolate, which is still low compared to coffee. Chocolate has been unfairly targeted as being the trigger for acne. Studies going as far back as the 1960s have failed to show any relationship between chocolate consumption and acne. Finally the traditional story that chocolate must contain at least 70% cacao to be good for you isn't necessarily true. While the general recommendation is to consume dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cacao to reap the health benefits (higher antioxidants), one study found chocolate containing 50% cacao showed a significant reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure. As well, another study showed short-term improvements in blood flow and blood pressure after consumption of a 60% cacao dark chocolate.

SOURCE: Mother Nature Network

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