Myth vs Fact: Eating chocolate has health benefits

At a young age, your parents may have told you that chocolate is bad for you, but is it really? An increasing amount of research has  been indicating that eating chocolate can actually be good for you. Obviously, eating chocolate for its health benefits is a very enticing and incentivizing idea, but could this be too good to be true?

Here, we will outline 4 common myths about chocolate and some facts to help you with your own growth in your health and wellness journey.

MYTH: Chocolate lacks nutritional value

FACT: Research shows that dark chocolate, specifically, due to its higher concentration of cocoa, is actually good for your gut due to the beneficial bacteria that are present at the end of our digestive tract. These microbes break down the antioxidants in addition to fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium—all of which are important for our health and are also found in chocolate!

One study shows that cocoa and dark chocolate had more antioxidant activity than fruits like 2.5 blueberries, acai berries, or cups of green tea. 

MYTH: Chocolate will increase your blood pressure.

FACT: Dark chocolate has been found to be good for increasing blood flow and lowering blood pressure. A Harvard study analyzed 24 different chocolate studies involving over 1,000 people. Researchers found individuals’ blood pressure, specifically those with hypertension, had lowered blood pressure after the study. By the end of the study, participants who ate dark chocolate regularly lowered their systolic blood pressure by nearly three points and their diastolic blood pressure by almost two points.

MYTH: Diabetics should not eat chocolate

FACT: For individuals who have type 2 diabetes, you may feel compelled to say goodbye to all sweets. However, dark chocolate actually has a low glycemic index—a measure which represents how much different foods increase blood glucose levels 2 after consuming food—which suggests that it could improve insulin activity with individuals with diabetes. According to the American Heart Association, consuming dark chocolate has the potential of lowering risks of heart disease, insulin resistance, and high blood pressure.

However, dark chocolate is preferable over white and milk chocolate because of its higher cocoa composition. 

MYTH: Chocolate is bad for your cholesterol>

FACT: Chocolate can lower susceptibility to having bad cholesterol and may reduce heart disease risk. That’s not why it's given often on Valentine’s Day but studies have shown that it helps reduce chances of cardiovascular disease. 

It’s actually been found that people who eat more chocolate have lower rates of heart attacks and heart failure. A study analyzed the impact of chocolate on over 55,000 people for 13 years and tracked individuals who ate chocolate less than once a month. The study found that individuals who consumed 2 to 6 servings of chocolate per week actually had a 20% lower rate of heart conditions. However, for those who consumed more than this, the positive impact of chocolate did not apply. 

Enjoy but remember to eat chocolate responsibly

Lastly, while you can now look forward to treating yourself to a bit of chocolate at the end of a long day, it is important to remember that chocolate should always be eaten in moderation. Nutritionists recommend that people consume dark chocolate with the lowest amounts of sugar, without any additional artificial sweeteners, and the highest amounts of cocoa, which is usually about 50% to 70%.

For more information on other healthy foods and additional ways to treat your gut well, be sure to check out our other article for some natural remedies.

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