Whether you prefer a gooey chocolate truffle or a mug of hot cocoa, chocolate is the number one indulgence for most of us—especially on Valentine’s Day. But this indulgence comes at a price, right? After all, isn’t chocolate bad for us, full of caffeine and saturated fat? Not so fast—new research has shown that chocolate can be a part of a healthy diet after all.|
Here are some common myths about this Valentine’s Day (or any day) treat, along with the facts to set the record straight.
Myth: Chocolate is high in caffeine.
Fact: While eating chocolate may perk you up, chocolate is actually not very high in caffeine. A 1.4-ounce chocolate bar or an 8-ounce glass of chocolate milk both contain 6 mg of caffeine, the same amount as a cup of decaffeinated coffee. (For reference, regular coffee contains about 65-135mg of caffeine.)
Myth: Chocolate is loaded with saturated fat and is bad for your cholesterol.
Fact: Stearic acid, the main saturated fat found in milk chocolate, is unique. Research has shown that it doesn’t raise cholesterol levels the same way that other types of saturated fats do. In fact, eating a 1.4 ounce chocolate bar instead of a carbohydrate-rich snack has been shown to increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
Myth: Chocolate lacks any nutritional value.
Fact: Chocolate is a good source of magnesium, copper, iron and zinc. It also contains polyphenols (an antioxidant also found in tea and red wine) that have been associated with a decreased risk of coronary disease. An average chocolate bar contains about the same amount of antioxidants as a 5-ounce glass of red wine.
A daily serving of dark chocolate, which contains more antioxidants than milk chocolate, can also help lower blood pressure and improve insulin resistance according to a joint study between Tufts University in Boston and the University of L’Aquila in Italy. The findings do not suggest that people with high blood pressure consume dark chocolate in lieu of taking their prescribed medication, but that the flavonoids in dark chocolate may have a positive effect on blood pressure and insulin resistance. Learn more about the health properties of chocolate.
Myth: Chocolate causes cavities.
Fact: Candy alone is not responsible for cavities. Cavities are formed when bacteria in the mouth metabolize sugars and starches from any type of food (soda, candy, juice, bread, rice and pasta) to produce acid. This acid then eats through the enamel of the tooth, causing a cavity.