An all-time favorite of people with a sweet tooth, chocolate has recently gained a reputation for having the potential to contribute to our health. Used in various purposes throughout history, The New York Times reported that “the global chocolate market grew by nearly 20 percent between 2016 and 2021, with an approximate revenue of $980 billion in 2021.”
While multiple studies have proved that cocoa can reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels, improve cardiovascular health and fight inflammation, it is yet to be determined whether chocolate can have the same effects. This is mainly due to the fact that chocolate also contains other ingredients, usually, which may or may not be good for you.
The rule of thumb when it comes to chocolate consumption is that the higher the amount of cocoa in it, the better.
Rich in fiber and minerals like iron, zinc and selenium, cocoa has been proven to improve attention, memory and general cognition. But in the case of chocolate, cocoa is combined with milk, sweeteners and other substances, which can diminish or completely eliminate its beneficial effects.
The New York Times spoke to Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, cardiologist and nutrition professor, who stated that regular milk chocolate contains approximately 20 percent cocoa, which is a rather small amount. He continues by explaining that the best choice of chocolate would be one with at least 70 percent cocoa or dark chocolate. And the darker the chocolate, the better.
Dr. Mozaffarian added that “many small, short-term human trials, have found that dark chocolate or standardized cocoa supplements or drinks can modestly lower blood pressure and improve blood cholesterol and the health of blood vessels in adults. And some longer-term observational studies have found that those who eat more cocoa might have a lower risk of certain cardiovascular diseases.”
However, he emphasized that you shouldn’t consider chocolate as “health food”, because the studies that have been performed were not very conclusive regarding the supposed benefits of chocolate, but rather the ones of cocoa.