I’m sure you’ve read the seemingly too-good-to-be-true articles touting that chocolate (dark specifically) is a superfood, or full of anti-oxidants, or can improve memory, or even that it is good for your heart. The question is, are these claims accurate?
The answer is… sort of.
Despite the claims that one or two squares of quality dark chocolate can “…reduce the risk of death from heart attack by almost 50 percent…” per a WebMD article, science is still investigating these hypotheses.
Case in point, Howard Sesso, Associate Professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School is leading a four year trial called the Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamins Outcomes Study (or COSMOS for short) to look specifically at “…cognitive function, diabetes, physical performance, and other outcomes”.
I know what you’re thinking: a four year free pass to devour chocolate? Sign me up!
Not so fast my chocoholic friend; believe it or not, this trial has zero to do with chocolate and is all about cocoa flavanols, AKA “plant-based nutrients with virtually no calories, sugar, or fat”. Manson notes that “it would require an enormous amount of [chocolate]” to get the same 750 mg that they are testing in the trial. “And for many forms of chocolate, it would be virtually impossible because the cocoa flavanols are destroyed in processing” he adds.
To get 750 mg of flavanols per day from chocolate you’d have to eat anywhere between 70 calories (found in six tablespoons of cocoa powder) to 5,850 (found in 2½ lbs of milk chocolate). What about dark chocolate, you ask? A hefty 750 calories found in 4¾ ounces.
In the COSMOS study the test subjects will be consuming the cocoa flavanols protected from the time of harvest to encapsulation for more accuracy as well as to avoid unnecessary added fat, sugar and calories.
Manson acknowledges that the study has posed many misconceptions, the biggest of which is to “eat more chocolate”. He feels that you can still eat chocolate for your enjoyment but doesn’t “recommend that they eat more of it to get more flavanols.”
So what’s the bottom line? Eat chocolate in moderation for your enjoyment and not for the hype claims until further studies back these statements; if you want the cocoa without the added calories, consume a high quality cocoa powder that hasn’t been damaged due to being processed.
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One-On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a Certified Personal Trainer, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Colon Hydrotherapist and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email Crystal@PinkIslandFitness.com. She can also be reached at www.101FIT.com or www.PinkIslandFitness.com and 239-333-5771.