Share The Wealth by Chris Gupta
August 13, 2004

Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Heart

..."If you're going to indulge your chocolate cravings to improve your heart health, be sure to eat dark chocolate, avoid chocolate that contains hydrogenated oils and be moderate! Too much sugar will outweigh any benefits you might get from the flavonoids."...

My favorite way to eat chocolate is to mix coca powder in raw wiped cream, sans sugar, over fruit - now only if we could get rid of the caffeine... mm


Chris Gupta

In Issue 3 of the Hopkins Health Watch I shared some research showing that dark chocolate has some health benefits. A few readers wrote to point out that the research was sponsored by the chocolate industry. Does that make it bad research?

At the risk of sounding cynical, all research is sponsored by someone, and most often by a biased party. After all, why would one put up substantial amounts of money for research if there wasn't a benefit behind it? University research is almost always paid for directly or indirectly by commercial entities, and government research is heavily influenced by lobbyists, particularly those from the financially well-endowed pharmaceutical companies. Examples of true altruism in scientific research are extremely rare. This makes careful interpretation and analysis of research very important.

Examples abound of research that says one thing in a published article's title and abstract, while the research itself says something entirely different. Researchers who perform these sleight-of-pen tricks count on the fact that publishers rarely read and analyze the research carefully, and the media certainly doesn't read anything but abstracts and press releases.

I recently read a study published in a prestigious medical journal on the subject of oral contraceptives and breast cancer risk. The conclusion of the abstract was that there is no association between using contraceptive hormones and increased risk of breast cancer. Since this contradicts quite a bit of earlier research, I looked at the data more closely. Indeed, when the data was combined and averaged, there wasn't an increased risk. But when the data for different ethnic groups was pulled out from the rest of the data, some groups of Caucasian and African-American women who used oral contraceptives did have an increased risk of breast cancer. It's unlikely that the researchers missed this evidence.

I take research seriously and also with a grain of salt (or a piece of chocolate!). It should never be immediately taken at face value, one should never automatically assume it's true or meaningful, and it always bears a closer look if it's going to be used to prove a point.

As for the chocolate studies, there's no reason to dispute their findings--they weren't looking for earth-shattering revelations in medicine, just a couple more little justifications for chocolate lovers to indulge--in moderation of course!

Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Heart

Just in case you need an excuse to eat chocolate, new research shows that the flavonoids present in dark chocolate may help reduce heart disease. Scottish scientists measured platelet function in volunteers who ate 100 grams of either white chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate. (The clumping of platelets can contribute to the narrowing of arteries.) White chocolate had no effect on platelets, milk chocolate had a mild effect, but dark chocolate reduced one type of platelet clumping by 92 percent. Dark chocolate contains 70 percent cocoa, compared to 25 percent in milk chocolate and 0% in white chocolate.

In another study done at the University of California in San Francisco and published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, researchers had volunteers eat 46 grams of high-flavonoid dark chocolate or low-flavonoid dark chocolate for two weeks. In those who ate the high-flavonoid chocolate, the arteries were better able to dilate, which would help increase blood flow.
If you're going to indulge your chocolate cravings to improve your heart health, be sure to eat dark chocolate, avoid chocolate that contains hydrogenated oils and be moderate! Too much sugar will outweigh any benefits you might get from the flavonoids.

And by the way, freshly ground and brewed coffee, and red wine are also rich in flavonoids.

Kennedy G, Innes AJ et al, "Dark chocolate inhibits platelet aggregation in healthy volunteers.” Program and abstracts of the XIX Congress of the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis; Birmingham, UK, July 12-18, 2003.

Engler MB, Engler MM, "Flavonoid-rich dark chocolate improves endothelial function and increases plasma epicatechin concentrations in healthy adults,” J Am Coll Nutr. 2004 Jun;23(3):197-204.

© Copyright Hormones Etc. This information may be used for non-profit purposes, as long as the following information is included: "Used with permission of The Hopkins Health Watch,"


posted by Chris Gupta on Friday August 13 2004
updated on Saturday September 24 2005

URL of this article:



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Readers' Comments

what is the brand of dark chocolate? thx.

Posted by: John Cook on October 12, 2004 07:17 AM



apples, apricots, bananas, berries (including blueberries, gooseberries, blackberries, raspberries), broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cantaloupes, cereal grains (wheat, oats, barley), endive, garlic, grapefruit (whole fruit or juices), grapes, kale, leek, lettuce, onions, oranges, peaches, pears, peanuts, plums, potatoes (white and sweet), red wine, rhubarb, tea (black), tangerines, tomatoes.

Also, many spices and herbs -including coriander, mustard, parsley, peppers, rose hips, sage, and thyme.

Posted by: John Cook on October 12, 2004 08:20 AM


what is the brand of dark chocolate? thx.

Posted by: susan dixon on January 11, 2005 01:48 AM


See: for results of a study done by University of California.

Posted by: on February 8, 2005 06:49 PM


what if we use cocoa powder, would it have the same effect as dark chocolate? than how much cocoa powder that we need?

Posted by: stevi on February 15, 2005 03:09 PM


I would also like to know the brand of dark chocolate used in the article by John cook. I understand this is an important factor. Susan

Posted by: Susan on February 4, 2006 01:43 PM


I am doing a project in dark xhocolate bein jealthy 4 ur heart, abd this site really helped!!! Thanks, and eat lote of dark chocolate!!!!!

Posted by: ceccccc on February 22, 2006 01:38 PM


what is the brand of dark chocolate? thx.

Posted by: consuelo on February 6, 2007 06:20 PM


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