Potential health effects

Chocolate 1

Chocolate soon became a fashionable drink of the nobility after the discovery of the Americas. The morning chocolate by Pietro Longhi; Venice, 1775–1780

Even though chocolate is regularly eaten for pleasure, there are potentially a lot of health effects, both negative and positive. Cocoa or dark chocolate may positively affect the circulatory system. Other possible effects under basic research include anticancer, brain stimulator, cough preventor and antidiarrhoeal activities. An aphrodisiac effect is yet unproven.

According to research, limited amounts of dark chocolate appear to help prevent heart disease. The oxidation of LDL cholesterol is considered a major factor in the promotion of coronary disease. When this waxy substance oxidizes, it tends to stick to artery walls, increasing the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Research has shown the polyphenols in chocolate inhibit oxidation of LDL cholesterol.

On the other hand, the unconstrained consumption of large quantities of any energy-rich food, such as chocolate, without a corresponding increase in activity, is thought to increase the risk of obesity. Raw chocolate is high in cocoa butter, a fat which is removed during chocolate refining, then added back in in varying proportions during the manufacturing process. Manufacturers may add other fats, sugars, and milk as well, all of which increase the caloric content of chocolate.

Chocolate 2

Chocolate is created from the cocoa bean. A cacao tree with fruit pods in various stages of ripening

Chocolate absorbs lead from the environment during production, and there is a slight concern of mild lead poisoning for some types of chocolate. The average lead concentration of cocoa beans was a very low ≤ 0.5 ng/g, one of the lowest reported values for a natural food. Lead concentration of chocolate was as high as 70 ng/g for chocolate products and 230 ng/g for manufactured cocoa. 200,000 ng is the WHO tolerable daily limit for lead consumption. Additionally, chocolate is toxic to many animals because of insufficient capacity to metabolize theobromine.

A BBC report indicated that melting chocolate in one’s mouth produced an increase in brain activity and heart rate that was more intense than that associated with passionate kissing, and also lasted four times as long after the activity had ended.

In later research, chocolate has been linked with multiple health benefits and liabilities. Research on elderly people showed chocolate might cause osteoporosis. However, more research has shown that it will boost cognitive abilities. Further, dark chocolate and cocoa butter have been linked with multiple positive effects. Scientific evidence has suggested dark chocolate can help reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems and also reduce blood pressure in both overweight and normal adults. Finally, studies have shown dark chocolate as part of a low-fat diet can lower cholesterol levels in adults.

In August 2011, Cambridge research published in the British Medical Journal: Eating high levels of chocolate could be associated with a significant reduction in the risk of certain cardiovascular disorders.

Source and References


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