Health effects of chocolate
The health effects of chocolate refer to the possible positive and negative effects on health of eating chocolate.
Unconstrained consumption of large quantities of any energy-rich food, such as chocolate, without a corresponding increase in activity, increases the risk of obesity. Raw chocolate is high in cocoa butter, a fat removed during chocolate refining, then added back in varying proportions during manufacturing. Manufacturers may add other fats, sugars, and powdered milk as well.
There is a popular belief that the consumption of chocolate can cause acne. This belief is not supported by scientific studies. Various studies point not to chocolate, but to the high glycemic nature of certain foods, like sugar, corn syrup, and other simple carbohydrates, as one potential cause of acne. Chocolate itself has a low glycemic index. Other dietary causes of acne cannot be excluded.
It has been claimed that chocolate is an aphrodisiac. The reputed qualities of chocolate are most often associated with the pleasure of its consumption. Although there is no proof that chocolate is indeed an aphrodisiac, a gift of chocolate is a familiar courtship ritual.
Heart and blood vessels
Reviews support a short-term effect of lowering blood pressure; however, there is no evidence of long-term cardiovascular health effect. While cocoa consumption appears to benefit platelet and vascular function there is no good evidence that supports an effect on heart attacks or strokes.
The effect of chocolate on weight is unclear. A concern is that excessive consumption of dark chocolate may promote weight gain which is a risk factors for many diseases, including cardiovascular disease. As a consequence, consuming large quantities of dark chocolate in an attempt to protect against cardiovascular disease has been described as "cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face".[unreliable medical source?] Animal data, however, finds tentative benefits with respect to weight.
Chocolate consumption may have potential to cause mild lead poisoning, as some studies have shown that lead may bind to cocoa shells and contamination may occur during the manufacturing process.[unreliable medical source?] In a USDA study in 2004, mean lead levels in the samples tested ranged from 0.0010 to 0.0965 µg lead per gram of chocolate, but another study by a Swiss research group in 2002 found that some chocolate contained up to 0.769 µg per gram, close to the international (voluntary) standard limit for lead in cocoa powder or beans, which is 1 µg of lead per gram. In 2006, the U.S. FDA lowered by one-fifth the amount of lead permissible in candy, but compliance is only voluntary.
Chocolate contains polyphenols, especially flavan-3-ols (catechins) and flavonoids which are under study for their potential effects in the body. The following table shows the phenolic and flavonoid content of three different types of chocolate.
|Type of chocolate||Total phenolics (mg/100g)||Flavonoids (mg/100g)|
In sufficient amounts, the theobromine found in chocolate is toxic to animals such as cats, dogs, horses, parrots, and small rodents because they are unable to metabolise the chemical effectively. If animals are fed chocolate, the theobromine may remain in the circulation for up to 20 hours, possibly causing epileptic seizures, heart attacks, internal bleeding, and eventually death. Medical treatment performed by a veterinarian involves inducing vomiting within two hours of ingestion and administration of benzodiazepines or barbiturates for seizures, antiarrhythmics for heart arrhythmias, and fluid diuresis.
A typical 20-kilogram (44 lb) dog will normally experience great intestinal distress after eating less than 240 grams (8.5 oz) of dark chocolate, but will not necessarily experience bradycardia or tachycardia unless it eats at least a half a kilogram (1.1 lb) of milk chocolate. Dark chocolate has 2 to 5 times more theobromine and thus is more dangerous to dogs. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, approximately 1.3 grams of baker's chocolate per kilogram of a dog's body weight (0.02 oz/lb) is sufficient to cause symptoms of toxicity. For example, a typical 25-gram (0.88 oz) baker's chocolate bar would be enough to bring about symptoms in a 20-kilogram (44 lb) dog. Of course, baking chocolate is rarely consumed directly due to its unpleasant taste, but other dark chocolates' canine toxicities may be extrapolated based on this figure. Given access, dogs frequently consume chocolate at toxic levels because they like the taste of chocolate products and are capable of finding and eating quantities much larger than typical human servings. There are reports that mulch made from cacao bean shells is dangerous to dogs and livestock.[unreliable medical source?] 
- Ferdowsian HR, Levin S (March 2010). "Does diet really affect acne?". Skin therapy letter 15 (3): 1–2, 5. PMID 20361171.
- Melnik, BC; John, SM; Plewig, G (November 2013). "Acne: risk indicator for increased body mass index and insulin resistance". Acta dermato-venereologica 93 (6): 644–9. doi:10.2340/00015555-1677. PMID 23975508.
- Mahmood SN, Bowe WP (April 2014). "Diet and acne update: carbohydrates emerge as the main culprit". Journal of drugs in dermatology: JDD 13 (4): 428–35. PMID 24719062.
- "Sweet News for Managing Blood Sugar.". allchocolate.com. Retrieved 3 April 2009.
- Magin P, Pond D, Smith W, Watson A (February 2005). "A systematic review of the evidence for ‘myths and misconceptions’ in acne management: diet, face-washing and sunlight". Family Practice 22 (1): 62–70. doi:10.1093/fampra/cmh715. PMID 15644386.
- Rogers, PJ; Smit, HJ (May 2000). "Food craving and food "addiction": a critical review of the evidence from a biopsychosocial perspective.". Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior 66 (1): 3–14. PMID 10837838.
- Skarnulis, Leanna. "The Chocoholic's Survival Guide". webmd.com. Retrieved 14 April 2013.
- Parker, G; Parker, I; Brotchie, H (June 2006). "Mood state effects of chocolate.". Journal of affective disorders 92 (2-3): 149–59. PMID 16546266.
- Milliron T, Kelsberg G, St Anna L (June 2010). "Clinical inquiries. Does chocolate have cardiovascular benefits?" (PDF). J Fam Pract (Review) 59 (6): 351–2. PMID 20544068.
- Ried, K; Sullivan, TR; Fakler, P; Frank, OR; Stocks, NP (15 August 2012). "Effect of cocoa on blood pressure.". The Cochrane database of systematic reviews 8: CD008893. PMID 22895979.
- Sudano I, Flammer AJ, Roas S et al. (August 2012). "Cocoa, blood pressure, and vascular function". Curr. Hypertens. Rep. (Review) 14 (4): 279–84. doi:10.1007/s11906-012-0281-8. PMID 22684995.
In the last ten years many research studies confirmed that cocoa does indeed exert beneficial effects on vascular and platelet function.
- Arranz, S; Valderas-Martinez, P; Chiva-Blanch, G; Casas, R; Urpi-Sarda, M; Lamuela-Raventos, RM; Estruch, R (June 2013). "Cardioprotective effects of cocoa: clinical evidence from randomized clinical intervention trials in humans.". Molecular nutrition & food research 57 (6): 936–47. PMID 23650217.
- Franco, R; Oñatibia-Astibia, A; Martínez-Pinilla, E (18 October 2013). "Health benefits of methylxanthines in cacao and chocolate.". Nutrients 5 (10): 4159–73. PMID 24145871.
- Latif, R (March 2013). "Chocolate/cocoa and human health: a review.". The Netherlands journal of medicine 71 (2): 63–8. PMID 23462053.
- Adams, Stuart J. "A Critical Look at the Effects of Cocoa on Human Health.". Pabulum, 2004 Issue 61. Retrieved 3 March 2006.
- Rankin, CW; Nriagu, JO; Aggarwal, JK; Arowolo, TA; Adebayo, K; Flegal, AR (October 2005). "Lead contamination in cocoa and cocoa products: isotopic evidence of global contamination". Environmental Health Perspectives 113 (10): 1344–1348. doi:10.1289/ehp.8009. PMC 1281277. PMID 16203244.
- Karrie Heneman & Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr (2006). "Is Lead Toxicity Still a Risk to U. S. Children?" (PDF). California Agriculture 60 (4). Retrieved 15 February 2007.
- Lorraine Heller (29 November 2006). "FDA issues new guidance on lead in candy". FoodNavigator.com. Retrieved 15 February 2007.
- Meng CC, Jalil AM, Ismail A (2009). "Phenolic and theobromine contents of commercial dark, milk and white chocolates on the Malaysian market". Molecules 14 (1): 200–9. doi:10.3390/molecules14010200. PMID 19127248.
- Smit HJ (2011). "Theobromine and the pharmacology of cocoa". Handb Exp Pharmacol 200 (200): 201–34. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-13443-2_7. PMID 20859797.
- "Chocolate with Animals". Animal Poison Control Center. Retrieved 17 May 2008.
- Drolet R, Arendt TD, Stowe CM. Cacao bean shell poisoning in a dog. JAVMA 1984;185(8): 902.
- Blakemore F, Shearer GD. The poisoning of livestock by cacao products. Vet Record 1943;55(15).