CHOCOLATE AND HEALTH
In one of Shakespeare’s plays, the King says “a horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse”. I feel that a lot of people will say the same about chocolate.
People rationalise about their chocolate addiction. “I am sure just one little piece every night cannot be harmful”. “It is a myth that eating chocolates make you fat”! All these things people tell themselves to justify their chocolate indulgences. So, let’s get the facts:
Chocolate is manufactured from cocoa. The longstanding consumption of chocolate has led to the proliferation of folk wisdom about its effect on health which has prompted numerous studies and research to either approve or disprove these statements.
To offer patients accurate information about how eating chocolate may affect the health, it is critical to separate fact from fiction, however according to a recent large randomised trial, the question was posed which is most accurate about the effects of cocoa extract supplementation on the heart. It was found that the intake of chocolate was associated with a 10% lower rate of total cardiovascular events in older adults, including heart attacks and strokes. So, although this reduction was not statistically significant, the supplementation did cause a statistically significant 27% reduction in cardiovascular disease death.
The next question is, does daily supplementation with multivitamins or cocoa compare in terms of age related cognitive decline?
Fortunately chocolate does not influence cognitive decline, however multivitamins was linked to the significant slower rate of decline. This is obviously only significant in older people.
Chocolates are a rich source of flavan-3-ols. A recent systemic review found that hazelnuts have a significant higher incidence of the above mentioned mineral, however they also occur to a lesser extent in other fruits like apples, grapes and tea.
Cocoa influences the effect of clopidogrel, a blood thinning medication, significantly, however it has no effect on the blood thinning properties of aspirin.
Chocolate is also rich in oxalates which causes an increased risk of kidney stones, however, if one combines chocolates with foods such as yoghurt, it will reduce this side effect. Patients can also avoid kidney stones by consuming less animal protein.
I trust that the above mentioned facts will give you some insight into your chocolate addiction. In moderation chocolates is beneficial judging by above mentioned facts, however if overdone, it obviously can have side effects.
To answer your question….can I have two small blocks of chocolate on a daily basis? From a medical point of view, the benefits will far outweigh the negative aspects.