Huffpost Healthy Living

Dark Chocolate Lowers 'Bad' Cholesterol And Blood Sugar Levels When Eaten In Moderation: Study

Posted: Updated:

Hooray! -- even more research shows why dark chocolate (in moderation) has heart-healthy benefits.

Researchers from San Diego State University conducted a small controlled study illustrating that eating dark chocolate has positive effects in lowering blood sugar levels and "bad" cholesterol levels and increasing "good" cholesterol levels -- all of which could have positive effects on heart health.

The study was presented at the Experimental Biology 2012 meeting.

For the study, researchers had 31 people eat either 50 grams of regular dark chocolate (70% cocoa), dark chocolate (70% cocoa) that has been overheated, or white chocolate (0% cocoa). The study participants ate their assigned chocolate for a 15-day period; their blood glucose, circulating lipids, blood pressure and blood flow were all measured before and after the study.

But while the researchers found a positive effect of eating the dark chocolate in the study, they cautioned that chocolate is also high in saturated fat and calories, and must therefore be eaten in moderation.

For more sweet benefits of chocolate, click through the slideshow:

  • 1
    It Reduces Stroke Risk
    A 2011 Swedish study found that women who ate more than 45 grams of chocolate a week had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke than women who treated themselves to fewer than 9 grams of the sweet stuff.
  • 2
    It Boosts Heart Health
    Matija Puhek/500px
    Regular chocolate eaters welcome a host of benefits for their hearts, including lower blood pressure, lower "bad" LDL cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease. One of the reasons dark chocolate is especially heart-healthy is its inflammation-fighting properties, which reduce cardiovascular risk.
  • 3
    It Fills You Up
    Kohei Hara via Getty Images
    Because it's rich in fiber, dark chocolate can actually help keep you full, so you'll eat less, Dr. David Katz, founding director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center and HuffPost blogger told The Huffington Post. Regular chocolate eaters might do themselves a favor by treating themselves to a bite instead of snacking on "11 other things first" he said. Dark chocolate does the trick much better than milk, according to a small study from the University of Copenhagen, and may even reduce cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods.
  • 4
    It May Fight Diabetes
    Julie Thompson
    A small Italian study from 2005 found that regularly eating chocolate increases insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing risk for diabetes.
  • 5
    It Protects Your Skin
    Katerina Nanopoulou via Alamy
    Forget what you've heard about chocolate causing breakouts: Dark chocolate is actually good for your skin. The type of antioxidants called flavonoids found in dark chocolate offer some protection from UV damage from the sun. And no, that does not mean you can skip the sunscreen!
  • 6
    It Can Quiet Coughs
    Andrew Harding via Jupiter Images
    Can't stop coughing? An ingredient in chocolate called theobromine seems to reduce activity of the vagus nerve, the part of the brain that triggers hard-to-shake coughs. In late 2010, the BBC reported that scientists were investigating creating a drug containing theobromine to preplace cough syrups containing codeine, which can have risky side effects.
  • 7
    It Boosts Your Mood
    There's no denying that indulging your sweet tooth every once in a while feels great. Enjoying food is part of enjoying life, points out HuffPost Healthy Living's wellness editor, Dr. Patricia Fitzgerald. Chocolate eaters also report feeling less stressed.
  • 8
    It Improves Blood Flow
    Lisa Capretto/OWN
    Cocoa has anti-clotting, blood-thinning properties that work in a similar way to aspirin, Dr. Fitzgerald writes, which can improve blood flow and circulation.
  • 9
    It Improves Vision
    Jamie Grill via Getty Images
    Because of chocolate's ability to improve blood flow, in particular to the brain, researchers at the University of Reading hypothesized in a small 2011 study that chocolate may also increase blood flow to the retina, thereby giving vision a boost.
  • 10
    It May Make You Smarter
    Getty Images
    That boost of blood flow to the brain created by cocoa's flavanols seems to make people feel more awake and alert, and, in a small British study, perform better on counting tasks.

Around the Web

Dark Chocolate Is Healthy Chocolate

A Dark Chocolate a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

Heart-Health Benefits of Chocolate Unveiled

Dark Chocolate Health Benefits | Weight Loss Experts | Lose Weight ...

Chocolate for Heart Health: The Darker the Better - ABC News

Choose Dark Chocolate for Health Benefits

Dark chocolate outperforms white chocolate in heart benefits study

From Our Partners