FoundHealth is created by contributors like you!   edit Edit   comments Comments
wheel

2 people worked on this article:

ColleenO FoundHealth
Print
Share
         

Lipid Disorders and Chocolate

Read more about Chocolate.

Overview

Although it might sound too good to be true, a few studies indicate that dark chocolate might help improve cholesterol profile. As if that weren't good enough news, chocolate has also shown some promise for treating mild hypertension.

Effect of Chocolate on Lipid Disorders

Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, contains a number of active compounds that may explain its positive effect on cholesterol. Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants in the flavonol family, substances similar to those found in green tea, red wine, grapes, soy and other potentially healthful foods. Besides flavonols, chocolate contains a fat called stearic acid. Although it is a saturated fat, stearic acid is believed to have cardiovascular-preventive benefits.

Research Evidence on Chocolate

Several studies have shown that dark chocolate may improve cholesterol profile.243-244, 251,280

Chocolate has also shown some promise for improving cholesterol profile. In one study, 57 people with high cholesterol were given either a standard snack bar or a snack bar enriched with cocoa flavanols.7 Over 6 weeks, the results appeared to indicate that cocoa improved cholesterol levels to a greater extent than placebo. Two other preliminary studies found evidence that consumption of chocolate can improve levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol.9,10

How to Use Chocolate

The bottom line in selecting chocolate is to opt for darker chocolate, rather than milk or white chocolate. Cocoa powder may also be beneficial.

The typical daily dose of flavanols from chocolate thought to offer a beneficial effect range widely from 30 to 500 mg per day. The flavanol content of chocolate itself also varies widely. White chocolate contains little to no flavanols, commercial dark chocolate can contain as much as 500-2,000 mg of flavonols per 100 grams of chocolate. Special flavonol-enriched forms of chocolate are also available.

Types of Professionals That Would Be Involved with This Treatment

  • Integrative MD
  • Naturopath
  • Nutritionist or dietitian

Side Effects and Warnings

#Safety Issues

As a widely consumed food, chocolate is assumed to have a high safety factor. However, because of its caffeine and theobromine content, it would be expected to have potential side effects similar to those of coffee and black tea , namely: heartburn, gastritis, insomnia, anxiety, and heart arrhythmias (benign palpitations or more serious disturbances of heart rhythm.) ^[2] All drug interactions that can occur with caffeine would be expected to occur with chocolate as well.

Most chocolate products are high in calories, and therefore could lead to weight gain.

#Interactions You Should Know About

If you are taking:

  • MAO inhibitors : The caffeine in chocolate could cause dangerous drug interactions.
  • Stimulant drugs such as Ritalin: The stimulant effects of chocolate might be amplified.
  • Drugs to prevent heart arrhythmias or treat insomnia, heartburn, ulcers, or anxiety: Chocolate might interfere with their action.

References

  1. Polagruto JA, Wang-Polagruto JF, Braun MM, et al. Cocoa Flavanol-Enriched Snack Bars Containing Phytosterols Effectively Lower Total and Low-Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Levels. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;106:1804-1813.
  2. Baba S, Osakabe N, KatoY, et al. Continuous intake of polyphenolic compounds containing cocoa powder reduces LDL oxidative susceptibility and has beneficial effects on plasma HDL-cholesterol concentrations in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85:709-717.
  3. Baba S, Natsume M, Yasuda A, et al. Plasma LDL and HDL cholesterol and oxidized LDL concentrations are altered in normo- and hypercholesterolemic humans after intake of different levels of cocoa powder. J Nutr. 2007;137:1436-1441.
  4. Polagruto JA, Wang-Polagruto JF, Braun MM, et al. Cocoa flavanol-enriched snack bars containing phytosterols effectively lower total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. J Am Diet Assoc. 2006;106:1804-1813.
  5. Ding EL, Hutfless SM, Ding X, et al. Chocolate and prevention of cardiovascular disease: a systematic review. Nutr Metab (Lond). 2006 Jan 3. [Epub ahead of print]
  6. Baba S, Osakabe N, KatoY, et al. Continuous intake of polyphenolic compounds containing cocoa powder reduces LDL oxidative susceptibility and has beneficial effects on plasma HDL-cholesterol concentrations in humans. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85:709-717.
  7. Allen RR, Carson L, Kwik-Uribe C, et al. Daily consumption of a dark chocolate containing flavanols and added sterol esters affects cardiovascular risk factors in a normotensive population with elevated cholesterol. J Nutr. 2008;138:725-731.

Preview