Chocolate addiction becomes sweeter

Lisa Moore

Medical findings say this dessert offers health benefits

The next time temptation comes in the form of a Twinkie or a piece of cake, health-conscious eaters might want to reconsider and reach for a piece of chocolate instead.

Several studies, including one published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, indicate dark chocolate has health benefits. Flavanols, a type of antioxidant found in cocoa beans, are thought to have a blood-thinning effect similar to aspirin and may help reduce blood pressure.

Dark chocolate is high in flavanols compared to other chocolates. Milk chocolate has some flavanols, but white chocolate doesn’t have any, said Juanita Weaver, coordinator of the Nutrition Outreach Program.

“The more processed the chocolate is, the less antioxidants it has,” she said.

Weaver said she wouldn’t go as far as telling someone chocolate is healthy because there are still fat and calories to consider.

Weaver demonstrated using a 3.5-ounce Hershey’s Extra Dark Chocolate bar containing eight blocks of chocolate. After examining the serving size of the bar, she concluded three out of eight blocks of chocolate contained 210 calories and 13 grams of fat.

“So you see that if you are going to have chocolate everyday it is going to add up calorie-wise,” she said. “It has fat in it, too.”

Weaver said it’s important people keep the findings in perspective.

“Fruits and vegetables have antioxidants, too,” she said. “You could eat a lot of fruits and vegetables for that amount of calories, and you would actually get vitamins and minerals from fruits and vegetables that you don’t get from chocolate.”

While the andioxidant-rich chocolate has health benefits, junior case management major Erin Wilson said she prefers milk chocolate over dark chocolate.

“It’s too bitter,” she said. “If there were significant health benefits, I would probably think about eating dark chocolate.”

The Chocolate Shack on Tallmadge Road in Kent has seen its dark chocolate sales increase since the findings came out, employee Kayla Kohut said.

Cherry cordials, raisin clusters, crispy clusters, pecan clusters, marshmallow clusters and caramel peanut butter double decadence are just a few dark and light chocolate treats sold at The Chocolate Shack.

“Almost every chocolate comes in dark or light,” she said.

The most popular dark chocolate item at The Chocolate Shack is the dark chocolate baking bars, Kohut said.

Although dark chocolate has antioxidants, eating in moderation is key, Weaver said.

“Look at your diet to make sure you are eating a good, healthy diet,” she said. “If you want a little treat make sure it is a small serving like the chocolate.”

Contact news correspondent Lisa Moore at [email protected]