2015 Study Indicates Possible Health Benefits of Milk Chocolate

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A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Edward Anderton formerly served as a project manager with Microsoft. Edward Anderton is currently the managing director of Scarlata Chocolate in Seattle, where he oversees business operations and guides the company’s marketing efforts. While dark chocolate is known to have undisputed benefits when eaten in moderation, a 2015 report indicates that milk chocolate may also offer certain health benefits.

A study based on the meta-analysis of eight previously published studies presented evidence that eating up to 3.5 ounces of chocolate a day may reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease. Researchers found that participants who regularly ate chocolate had a 23 percent decreased risk of stroke and an 11 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease. The eight previously published studies looked at in the meta-analysis involved nearly 158,000 people, the majority of whom consumed milk chocolate.

Although researchers could not identify a cause-and-effect relationship between chocolate and its benefits, their theories focus on the milk components and flavonols present in milk chocolate. Many scientists believe flavonols have the potential to prevent blood clotting, improve blood flow to the brain, and lower blood pressure and cholesterol. However, milk chocolate contains lower levels of flavonols than dark chocolate, leading the researchers to speculate that milk components may play a factor.

Researchers recognized that the limitations of the meta-analysis opened up the potential for other plausible explanations for the positive results experienced by participants. For instance, participants who ate the most chocolate included younger adults, a group that is generally not associated with cardiovascular problems.

Why You Should Consider Choosing Cacao Over Cocoa

Edward Anderton holds a BA in economics and is a certified project management professional. As the managing director and co-founder of Scarlata Chocolate, Edward Anderton has led the company in significantly increasing its sales of high-quality chocolate products made from sustainably sourced cacao beans.

Cacao differs from cocoa in several significant ways. Although both products are derived from the same plant, cacao is chocolate in its most natural form. Cacao seeds are processed without using high temperatures, unlike cocoa which is produced under high heat that causes it to lose some of its nutritional value. Another drawback of many commercially-produced cocoa products is that they are often supplemented with high-calorie ingredients such as oil, milk fat, and sugar.

Cacao offers a more intense chocolate flavor compared to cocoa and is typically sold as a raw powder and in small chopped pieces similar in size to chocolate chips. The cacao plant is also used to make raw cacao butter which contains only the fatty component of the fruit. Cacao butter is considered a very healthy type of saturated fat to consume and also offers a variety of beauty benefits.

Four Potential Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Edward Anderton manages customer-facing operations, develops e-commerce solutions, and creates production forecasting tools as the managing director of Scarlata Chocolate in Seattle. Under Edward Anderton’s direction, Scarlata Chocolate creates a wide selection of premium, handcrafted chocolate products. When made with quality, unprocessed ingredients, dark chocolate can offer a number of potential health benefits as explored below.

1. Improves heart health. Dark chocolate contains flavonols that positively affect the body by improving blood flow to the brain and lowering blood pressure. They also reduce the risk of stroke by diminishing the stickiness of blood platelets and making them less likely to clot. Dark chocolates with at least 70 percent cacao with added fat or sugars offer the best heart benefits.

2. Source of antioxidants. Flavonols also possess antioxidants that can improve the function of certain organs and benefit circulatory systems. For instance, studies indicate that flavanol antioxidants may increase blood flow to the brain and reduce the risk of some forms of cancer.

3. Reduces blood pressure. The coco phenols in dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure when consumed in small quantities. One 2015 study found that dark chocolate with high percentages of cacao decreased fasting blood sugar and reduced blood pressure in patients with hypersensitive diabetes.

4. Boosts mood. Chocolate possesses a chemical called phenylethylamine (PEA), which encourages the brain to release endorphins that cause feelings of happiness and contentment.