‘Eat chocolate, live longer!’
This made-up slogan reflects recent research into the health benefits of everyone’s favourite treat. Far from being bad for us (except for our teeth and waistlines), chocolate may help us live longer and healthier.
Chocolate contains antioxidants, compounds that limit the oxidation of lipoprotein cholesterol. Lipoproteins must be oxidized for plaque — the artery-clogging stuff of atherosclerosis — to form. So antioxidants may reduce a person’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Chocolate’s antioxidants, a type of flavenoids, are among the most effective antioxidants known.
Chocolate appears to have other good health effects. Its pyrocanidins are also antioxidants. Its flavenoids may decrease the risk of heart attack by thinning blood. Some of its compounds help relax blood vessel walls; when the walls cannot relax, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, and other symptoms of heart disease result. Chocolate seems to raise high-density lipoprotein (“good” cholesterol) levels also associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Other antioxidant-rich foods have been touted as helping people avoid heart disease. Yet a glass of red wine contains the same amount of antioxidants as a 40-gram piece of milk chocolate. A cup of black tea contains twice as many antioxidants, the same as a 40-gram piece of dark chocolate. The highest antioxidant concentration is in unsweetened powdered cocoa, with twice that of dark chocolate. The chocolate industry is trying to learn to process chocolate without losing its beneficial compounds. —Studyworks