Truth About Chocolate

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A rose by any other name… is still NOT a box of chocolates! Can you imagine anyone not lusting after those luscious bites of silky sweetness?

: I probably won't eat them.

: Because I'm on a diet (laugh) according to my wife.

: I really don't like chocolate.

: I don't need the extra calories.

It's true -- chocolate has gotten a bad name. It's blamed for acne…yet studies show its had little effect. It's more likely hormones and heredity are the villains in the pimple factor. Some worry that chocolate, like coffee, is high in caffeine. Yet one ounce of milk chocolate has only 7 milligrams of caffeine, while a regular cup of coffee holds between 95 and 140. And what about cavities? While it's true that anything loaded with sugar will create problems if teeth are not properly brushed, the tannins in chocolate may fight the bacteria responsible for tooth decay. But the biggest reason to give your sweetie a heart full of chocolate is that it's good for your heart!

Laurence Sperling, MD
There is evidence that a little bit of dark chocolate can have a favorable effect on our blood vessels. It can lower our blood pressure.

But before you gobble up all those chocolates, remember this: being heart healthy doesn't make chocolate any better for your waistline. That's why you should choose a small piece of dark – not white or milk chocolate – to get the heart healthy benefits of: Increasing your blood flow; Improving your HDL, the "good" cholesterol; Reducing your blood pressure; And increasing antioxidants in your blood. That's because cocoa contains significant amounts of plant flavonoids – the same heart healthy antioxidants found in green tea, red wine, and various veggies and fruits. In fact one study showed a cocoa drink has almost twice the antioxidants as red wine and up to three times the amount found in green tea. So when you take your honey out for that special occasion, why not double your heart health? A bite of dark chocolate with a glass of red wine might be just the thing to make your heart go pitter patter. For WebMD, I'm Sandee LaMotte