Antioxidants in dark chocolate could fight cancer, heart disease and even tooth decay, according to a new study published in the Lancet medical journal.
The study, which was conducted by Holland's National Institute of Public Health and Environment, found that chocolates contain antioxidants called catechins and phenols, both of which have been found to be effective in preventing heart disease and cancer.
The researchers found that dark chocolate contained four times as much catechins as tea, which was previously thought to contain the most of the antioxidant.
In addition, the researchers also believe that the cacao plant, from which chocolate is derived, may boost the immune system and restrict the formation of LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol which damages the heart.
“What better reason to indulge in your favourite chocolate treat than for its health-boosting properties?” says Thuli Galelekile, brand manager of Cote D’or chocolate in South Africa. “The research confirms what we have known for years: that, in moderation, chocolate is good for you. Antioxidants combat free radicals that are known to damage hearts.”
Only dark chocolate has benefits
Another study by Dirk Taubert, MD, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Cologne, Germany and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that dark chocolate – but not milk or white chocolate – can lower blood pressure.
The research team took six men and seven women and gave then a 100g chocolate bar to eat every day for two weeks. This calorie intake was balanced by not eating other foods similar in nutrients and calories. Half the group were given dark chocolate, while the other half were given white chocolate.
The study found that those who ate dark chocolate had a significant drop in blood pressure (an average of five points for systolic and an average of two points for diastolic blood pressure). Those who ate white chocolate did not register any change.
- (Marcus Brewster Publicity, November 2007)
Should we be eating more chocolate?