I came across the study above a while ago, but am just getting around to mentioning it in this blog. This study is not primary research, but rather a review of all MEDLINE publications from 1966 through January 2005 looking for “relations between cocoa, cacao, chocolate, stearic acid, flavonoids (including flavonols, catechins, epicatechins, and procynadins) and the risk of cardiovascular disease.”
One of the things they looked at was whether or not the stearic acid content was detrimental to cardiovascular health. Stearic acid is the type of saturated fat found in cacao. The evidence suggests that it is neutral, unlike other saturated fats, which raise total cholesterol levels.
To quote the results of the study:
The body of short-term randomized feeding trials suggests cocoa and chocolate may exert beneficial effects on cardiovascular risk via effects on lowering blood pressure, anti-inflammation, anti-platelet function, higher HDL, decreased LDL oxidation. Additionally, a large body of trials of stearic acid suggests it is indeed cholesterol-neutral. However, epidemiologic studies of serum and dietary stearic acid are inconclusive due to many methodologic limitations. Meanwhile, the large body of prospective studies of flavonoids suggests the flavonoid content of chocolate may reduce risk of cardiovascular mortality. Our updated meta-analysis indicates that intake of flavonoids may lower risk of CHD mortality, RR = 0.81 (95% CI: 0.71–0.92) comparing highest and lowest tertiles.
It’s a good article. Got a lot of big words, but they do a good job of explaining and referencing the research.
I think I’ll go have some healthy dark chocolate.
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