Clinical Research Experts Debate the Health Benefits of ChocolateSeptember 22, 2015
If you have a sweet tooth, you’ve likely heard the recent rumour that chocolate is good for your health. If you decide to pursue a career in clinical research, you’ll be doing the work that ensures such claims are valid, bringing new and tasty truths to light.
In-depth clinical research reveals that cocoa is indeed healthy as it contains flavonoid and flavonol compounds; toxin-destroying antioxidants. But is that enough to counteract chocolate’s unhealthy fattening effects and justify a new, healthy reputation?
Read on to learn what clinical research reveals about chocolate’s controversial health claims.
Chocolate’s Benefits Proven through Clinical Research
Chocolate producers each have their own process and product formulations, but the central ingredient is cocoa from cocoa beans. And research has found more than 300 healthy compounds within cocoa itself.
Once you start your program, you’ll begin to take a deeper look into the chemical properties of the foods we eat and the medicines we take. Clinical research refers to the work that protects consumers from potentially unsafe or inconsistent aspects of the products we consume. A look into commercial chocolate reveals much more than cocoa. It’s the additives (like sugar, milk fat, and more) that promote chocolate’s negative health effects.
For example, a standard 43g Hershey’s bar contains 13g of fat and 24g of sugar. That leaves only 6g for anything else. Antioxidants or not, that can’t be called a health food.
Some Research Endorses Chocolate’s Healing Powers
Over the years, studies have shown that chocolate does offer a wide range of benefits to consumers.
A Swedish study found that eating two bars of dark chocolate per week led to a 20 per cent decrease in stroke among women. Others have shown that eating chocolate prevents blood clots, reducing one’s risk of heart attack. That’s the work of flavanols, slowing blood platelets from clumping together and improving blood flow. Improved blood flow from chocolate is also said to boost brain power.
Flavonoids have been shown to protect against UV rays, this is why eating chocolate has been advertised as a skin protectant method in Germany. Chocolate can also increase insulin sensitivity, which is said to reduce the risk of diabetes.
Without Thorough Clinical Research, Chocolate Reports are Faulty
Many studies touting chocolate’s benefits are poorly conducted, and promoted in a misleading way.
For example, studies claiming chocolate cuts heart disease and stroke risk have been exposed for using a carefully controlled participant base—young people with low body mass index and blood pressure, who were less likely to have stroke risk in the first place.
And the vast majority of studies involve bittersweet dark chocolate with high cocoa content ranging from 70 to 99 per cent—not the everyday, paler, sweeter chocolate most consumers eat. But that fact is often glazed over by researchers and the media to make studies seem more relevant and marketable.
News agents also often pander to consumers’ love of chocolate when reporting on these studies. Consider how the “insulin sensitivity” that regular chocolate consumption promotes pales in comparison to the weight gain it promotes—which in itself raises the risk of diabetes and heart disease. Reporters rarely offer so critical a perspective.
The Bittersweet Bottom Line
Experts in clinical research careers recognize the importance of taking a careful and critical look at scientific claims about food and drugs. They conduct studies that determine the real benefits and effects caused by pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, natural health products, and more.
So what do they say about chocolate? Here’s today’s most trusted scientific stance: chocolate offers healthy antioxidants when consumed in its darkest forms, and in moderation. The right clinical research training can help you ensure quality through scientific precision, and promote the health of your own community.