Thought dark chocolate was healthy? Think again
We all feel smug when we reach for a dark chocolate bar instead of a milk one but researchers claim it may not contain the health-boosting properties we were led to believe.
Plain chocolate is naturally rich in flavanols, plant chemicals believed to protect the heart.
But an editorial in The Lancet medical journal today says that many manufacturers remove flavanols from chocolate because of the bitter taste.
In a study led by Dr Andreas Flammer of the Cardiovascular Centre in Zurich, it was found that flavanol-rich chocolate caused blood vessels to open up and improved heart function in 11 heart-transplant patients.
However, flavanols are often removed, which is hard to detect because cocoa solids can be darkened after their removal, claims the article.
It continues: Consumers are also kept in the dark about flavanol content of chocolate because manufacturers rarely label their products with this information.
The article also urges those who often go to the dark side not to forget plain chocolate is still loaded with fat and sugar.
Those who eat a moderate amount of flavanol-rich dark chocolate will have to balance the calories by reducing their intake of other foods.
So with the holiday season upon us, it might be worth getting familiar with the calories in a bar of dark chocolate versus a mince pie and having a calculator at hand.