(NaturalNews) People should not be misled into believing that the typical chocolate bar is good for heart health, according to an editorial published in the influential medical journal Lancet, because most processed chocolate bars contain very low amounts of the nutrient that makes chocolate good for you.
A series of recent studies have suggested that the flavanols contained in dark chocolate are good for the heart. A paper published in the journal Circulation reported that heart transplant patients who were given a dose of dark chocolate showed significant improvement in measures of blood flow, clotting and vascular function within only two hours. Participants who were given a placebo dose of fake chocolate showed no improvement in any of these measurements.
But the flavanols that make chocolate healthy also make it bitter, and as such are removed by many commercial chocolate manufacturers. And as the Lancet editorial noted, there is no requirement for manufacturers to state on the label whether flavanols have been removed or not.
Flavanols are naturally occurring plant chemicals in the flavonoid family. They are powerful antioxidants that have been shown to have a number of health benefits, including for the heart. Flavonoids are also found in tea, red wine and a number of fruits and vegetables.
For those seeking to exploit chocolate's heart health effects, an article published in the Mayo Clinic Health Letter recommends dark chocolate, which contains an average of 53.5 milligrams of flavonoids per bar. In contrast, the average bar of milk chocolate contains less than 14 milligrams, and white chocolate contains none.
But the sugar and fat in chocolate bars come with their own health risks.
"If you ask me what's more important, a little physical activity like walking or eating the chocolate, go take your walk," said Jacob Shani, chair of the Cardiac Institute at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn.