Chocolate is Good for Me (Kinda)

As you can tell from the subhead of my blog, I’m a fan of chocolate. I don’t eat a lot in one sitting, but I eat chocolate every day. I do not apologize for this. It surprises people when I mention that I’m a daily chocolate eater, as if my chocolate consumption negates the positive effects of an overall healthy diet. In my brain, however, chocolate is as essential as brushing my teeth and showering. I get to say a small amount of “Hah!” to my health fanatic friends because today I received vindication in the form of a longitudinal study. According to my local newspaper in an article pulled from The Washington Post*, a study indicated that “people who eat chocolate tend to perform better cognitively.” The types of tasks include remembering phone numbers, shopping lists, and doing two things at once.

Let’s pass the Hershey’s kisses in celebration. I am excited. I am ebullient. I am shocked to learn that many of the participants ate chocolate only rarely or never versus once a week or more. Who are these people who eat chocolate rarely or never? Most people I know have a chocolate stash in their desk drawers, ready to be shared or consumed at will.

Further complicating the potential good news of this scenario is the fact that the type of chocolate that the study is referring to is the type of chocolate with less sugar and more cocoa bean goodness. It’s the cocoa in chocolate that has antioxidants and cholesterol-lowering properties. The benefits also include preventing cognitive decline and reducing stress/blood pressure.

This still sounds great to me, but the downfall is a question that wasn’t answered by the study. According to the other studies I’ve seen, the current assumption is that it’s darker chocolate – you know, the kind that mostly closely tastes like undiluted cocoa powder-that renders the health benefits.

Merrill Elias, the scientist who conducted the study, stated, “We didn’t look at dark chocolate and lighter chocolate separately.” Interesting question and one that must be answered. I herewith most humbly and respectfully volunteer. As one who exceeds the average 4.5 kg of chocolate consumption per year, I know a thing or two about chocolate. Just don’t make me eat the 75% or greater dark stuff. That really does taste like the bean itself.


*By the time I’m typing this, the information is awfully far removed from the original study, so please treat this like the good spirited gossip it is. Or, find the study and read for yourself.