More reasons to consume chocolate | Dr. Petter

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal further supports the claim that chocolate is healthy.

A recent study published in the British Medical Journal further supports the claim that chocolate is healthy.

Researchers reviewed and analyzed seven studies with more than 114,000 participants. Conclusions: Individuals who consume chocolate have a 37-percent reduction in cardiovascular disease, and a 29-percent decline in stroke.

How can chocolate be healthy? Chocolate contains Flavonoids (also contained in fruits, vegetables, green tea, red wine), which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from aging caused by free radicals.* In addition, chocolate contains a chemical called Theobromine that can decrease blood pressure by dilating arteries.

Chocolate also can help reduce the bad cholesterol called LDL (Low Density Lipoprotein), by as much as 10 percent. In addition, chocolate possesses anti-platelet activity, similar to the effects of an aspirin; it helps prevent platelet clumping, allowing blood to flow more freely throughout vessels.

Consuming chocolate in moderation is the key; 100 grams, or 3.5 ounces a day. Dark chocolate contains the most Flavonoids (approximately eight times the amount contained in strawberries), followed by milk chocolate, than white.

Unfortunately, chocolate is high in calories. One dark chocolate candy bar contains about 400 calories. Additional ingredients like caramel and marshmallow, although certainly tasty, unfortunately add more fat and calories, making that chocolate bar just a little less healthy.

Lastly, avoid drinking milk with chocolate. Research has shown that milk can inhibit the antioxidants from being absorbed into your body.

* Free radicals are atoms, molecules or ions with unpaired electrons on an open shell configuration. Free radicals may have positive, negative, or zero charge. With some exceptions, the unpaired electrons cause radicals to be highly chemically reactive. Radicals, if allowed to run free in the body, are believed to be involved in degenerative diseases, senescence (aging) and cancers. Source: Wikipedia

Dr. Linda Petter of Auburn is a weekly feature on KOMO TV/News Radio (1000 AM & 97.7 FM) every Sunday live at 7:45 a.m., and a columnist for the Auburn Reporter. She trained at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Illinois, Carle Hospital. Dr. Petter is chief of the Department of Family Practice at St. Francis Hospital in Federal Way. She is a consumer healthcare advocate, and her books, “Healthcare On a Budget” and “Common Medical Sense are available on Please visit her website,, or call her office at 253-568-0841.