Scientists have just started a study to see if women who eat a chocolate bar
every day, for a full year, can reduced the risk of heart disease. Yes, I know
you would have been willing to do your part for science, but they already had
more volunteers than they needed.
Did you know that Hershey's makes over 20 million Kisses a day? There's
about 30 calories in each piece. You do the math.
And have you
heard the latest news? It turns out, chocolate is good for you. That's
right, according to some news reports, chocolate might help you stay healthy
and even fight some diseases like cancer. As you know by this point, there
are usually two sides to every story. It turns out that chocolate contains
a substance called flavonoids. These are naturally occurring antioxidants. In
laboratory studies, and that’s important, not in real humans yet, in laboratory
studies these antioxidants have been found to neutralize the substances that
can damage blood vessel walls. And chocolate contains some of these good antioxidants.
Well, could you ask for any better news? Something you love is absolutely good
for you. It's very important, however, to point out that, at this time,
there are no studies, none, zero, specifically showing a strong relationship
between chocolate intake and the health of your heart or your ability to prevent
cancer. That’s why they’re doing the current chocolate bar study. The
bigger question is whether the fat and calorie price tag you pay to get these
antioxidants is worth it. Let me tell you what we do know as of
Since chocolate comes from a plant it naturally contains no cholesterol. Only
animal products have cholesterol. And it turns out that two-thirds of the
fat found in chocolate is not the kind that’s bad for your heart. But
remember once again, all fat has calories. So even if a fat is not
bad for your arteries, it can still contribute to your waistline. An ounce
of chocolate usually has between 140 and 150 calories and 9 or 10 grams of
fat. Of course, if nuts or cream or coconut are added, that will add
several more grams of fat per ounce. By the way, if you have a chocolate
covered cherry, or chocolate mint like a York Peppermint Patty, the calories
are lower and usually have only around two grams of fat per ounce.
Now some basics. Chocolate is made from cocoa beans which come from the cacao tree.
Unsweetened cocoa powder is made after the cocoa beans are roasted and a significant
amount of cocoa butter is removed. The result is very bitter. If
you use unsweetened cocoa powder you have to add your own sweetener. The good
news that's coming out about chocolate really applies to cocoa powder, not
necessarily your chocolate candy bar. Chocolate candy, of course, has
added fat and added sugar. Remember that every average 2.6 oz. bar of dark
chocolate has around 23 grams of fat. It also has over eight teaspoons
of sugar and around 400 total calories. It's specifically the cocoa powder
that contains these good flavonoids we were talking about earlier. And It turns
out that if chocolate isn’t produced carefully it loses a lot of those
flavonoids. Heating, fermentation, the process of "Dutching" or alkalizing
cocoa or chocolate, which is done to improve the flavor, can also destroy the
good flavonoids in the cocoa bean.
There’s nothing wrong with a little chocolate now and then. But
who eats just a little? The average American woman eats around 11 pounds
of chocolate per year. Since chocolate is so calorically dense, it’s
very easy to get a lot of calories and fat in just a little food. Sure,
chocolate isn’t going to do much damage to a good diet. Are you
eating a good diet? I hope so. But many people are living on food
that already is too high in fat, sugar, and calories and too low in fiber,
fruits, and vegetables. Saying that chocolate can be a healthy addition
to that kind of intake is just wrong. Speaking of sugar, be sure to
download the sugar listings of some common foods in the special “How
Sweet It Is” handout below.
line on chocolate is that it is not a health food. A much better way to get
your antioxidants is from fruits and vegetables. They’re loaded
with vitamins, minerals, and fiber too. And you get a lot less fat,
sugar, and calories than with a chocolate candy bar. Technically speaking,
dark chocolate may have some minor health benefits. But don't eat it for that
reason. Just eat it in moderation because it tastes sooo good! Hey,
you didn't really need a reason to eat chocolate anyway did you?