Are these findings another green light for dark chocolate? Some experts say “yes” as they also point to a recommended upper daily “dose.” What does this new research add to the current data on the health benefits of the flavinoid-rich sweet? Drs Payal Kohli and Christopher Cannon discuss study results and what you should tell your patients.
Dark chocolate just got another green light. Building on research that has linked chocolate consumption to improved blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol levels, a new study finds that more frequent consumption of the flavinoid-rich sweet is also associated with lower body mass index (BMI). As reported in a March issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, the positive association remained after adjustment for age and sex, intake of calories and saturated fat, mood, and activity level.
Among more than 1000 men and women aged 20 to 85 years who had no known cardiovascular disease or diabetes, frequency of chocolate consumption was associated with greater intake of calories and saturated fats and higher depression scores (CES-D); (P <.001 for each association); these all related positively to BMI. Chocolate consumption frequency was also associated with lower BMI (unadjusted P =.01).
Can you now recommend that daily dose of chocolate and “do no harm?” Is all chocolate fair game? How much “good chocolate” is enough? What is the relationship between the fat and calories in chocolate and health benefits?
Here to put this issue into perspective are Drs Christopher Cannon and Payal Kohli. Dr Cannon, a senior investigator with the TIMI Study Group, is editor-in-chief of Cardiosource Science and Quality. He is also Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Associate Physician in the Cardiovascular Division of Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston. Dr Kohli graduated from Harvard Medical School and completed her internal medicine training in Boston and is scheduled to start her fellowship in cardiovascular medicine at the University of California San Francisco in June 2012.
Podcast: More Frequent Chocolate Consumption Linked to Lower BMI
• Flavinoids are the active ingredient in dark chocolate and exert their positive effect on vascular and platelet function by increasing nitrous oxide availability, thereby decreasing oxidative stress
• Dark chocolate contains more flavinol than either milk chocolate or white chocolate and therefore less milk fat and fewer calories
• The recommended “dose” of dark chocolate is approximately 30 to 60 g/d
Golomb BA, Koperski S, White HL. Association between more frequent chocolate consumption and lower body mass index. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172:519-521.