Q: Is dark chocolate good for my heart?
Chocolate is made from cocoa pod (a fruit) which contains antioxidants called polyphenols (in particular flavanols). Dark chocolate contains more cocoa solids than milk chocolate. The evidence is behind high polyphenol (≥500mg) cocoa/chocolate which can increase endothelial (blood vessel cell) function, modestly reduce systolic blood pressure and reduces platelet activity (blood clotting) to benefit heart health. However, during processing flavanols are removed due to their bitter flavour. Manufacturers are also not required to provide flavanol content on product labels.
In addition, The Heart Foundation does not recommend “consuming milk chocolate or dark chocolate for the prevention or treatment” of heart disease since most chocolate is a poor source of antioxidants and contains saturated and trans fats.
Fact: Fruits and vegetables contain heaps of antioxidants which contributes to reducing the risks of heart disease and other chronic diseases. Aim to reach your 2 serves of fruit and 5 or 6 serves of vegetables today!
Hooper L, Kay C, Abdelhamid A, Kroon PA, Cohn JS, Rimm EB, et al. Effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols on cardiovascular health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. The American Journal Of Clinical Nutrition. 2012;95(3):740-51.