Updated: Nov 6, 2020
However, according to a review of chocolate’s health effects published in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine, it’s not all bad news.
The authors point to the discovery that cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate, contains biologically active phenolic compounds.
Chocolate’s antioxidant potential may have a range of health benefits. The higher the cocoa content, as in dark chocolate, the more benefits there are. Dark chocolate may also contain less fat and sugar, but it is important to check the label.
Eating chocolate may have the following benefits:
lowering cholesterol levels
preventing cognitive decline
reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems
In addition, chocolate bars do not contain only cocoa. The benefits and risks of any other ingredients, such as sugar and fat, need to be considered.
One study, published in The Journal of Nutrition, suggests that chocolate consumption might help reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels, also known as “bad cholesterol.”
The researchers set out to investigate whether chocolate bars containing plant sterols (PS) and cocoa flavanols (CF) have any effect on cholesterol levels.
The authors concluded: “Regular consumption of chocolate bars containing PS and CF, as part of a low-fat diet, may support cardiovascular health by lowering cholesterol and improving blood pressure.”
2) Cognitive function
Scientists at Harvard Medical School have suggested that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day could help keep the brain healthy and reduce memory decline in older people.
The researchers found that hot chocolate helped improve blood flow to parts of the brain where it was needed.
Results of a lab experiment, published in 2014, indicated that a cocoa extract, called lavado, might reduce or prevent damage to nerve pathways found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. This extract could help slow symptoms such as cognitive decline.
Another study, published in 2016 in the journal Appetite, suggests eating chocolate at least once weekly could improve cognitive function.
3) Heart disease
Research published in The BMJ, suggests that consuming chocolate could help lower the risk of developing heart disease by one-third. Based on their observations, the authors concluded that higher levels of cho