Chocolate has been hyped as a food that may ward off cardiovascular disease and help improve your memory, but at this time, that’s an overstatement.
While some observational studies have linked chocolate consumption to reductions in heart disease and dementia, they can’t establish a cause-and-effect relationship. Any benefit is thought to be due to flavanols — bioactive compounds that occur naturally in the cocoa bean.
“Flavanols are one of the most promising and exciting nutritional interventions available for helping to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and a large-scale randomized trial is the next logical step in testing their effectiveness,” Dr. JoAnn Manson says in the Harvard Women’s Health Watch.
She is testing the effects of consuming 750 mg of cocoa flavanols a day in capsules. Naturally processed unsweetened cocoa is a very good source of flavanols. However, you would have to eat more than 700 calories of dark chocolate — and more than 1,000 calories of milk chocolate — to get 750 mg of flavanols. White chocolate has no flavanols.