With so much written about the health benefits of chocolate in recent years we thought we should start pointing to some authorative sources of information to inform our dark chocolate customers that their indulguence may be more virtuous than they dared to imagine. Here’s an extract from an interview with anti-oxidant expert and author of The Red Wine Diet Roger Corder:
Chris – So Roger, what’s the grounds for thinking (just like the chocolate manufacturers would love us to be thinking) that chocolate is actually good for us?
Roger – Essentially, a number of population studies have shown a lower risk of heart disease in people who eat chocolate regularly and although this is a rather surprising finding a number of research groups over the past ten years or so have been looking at how this may be explained. What are the effects on blood vessel function that may be protective? We’ve done our own research in this area and shown that the potent effects; modifying the function of endothelial cells, which are the cells that line blood vessels. These effects could definitely be associated with reduced risk of heart disease; exactly the same molecules we’re looking at when we’re looking at red wine. There’s so much similarity between the effects we’re observing and the molecules that we’re studying that there’s a parallel between consumers of highly tannic red wine and those who like to eat dark chocolate, in terms of the effects observed.
Chris – So it’s got to be the dark chocolate?
Roger – Absolutely. It’s dark chocolate and no other choice. Cocoa as a drink may be an alternative but milk chocolate and white chocolate. These have virtually no flavinoids in; none of these protective polyphenols and therefore there’s no scope for health benefits in consuming these products.
Chris – A lot of people criticise people who say, ‘Drink red wine because it's good for you,’ because they say you couldn’t possibly eat enough or drink enough to make a health-promoting effect. Is that true with chocolate? Can you eat enough to make a difference?
Roger – I think we’re at an early stage in defining what are the best chocolates to have. There’s certainly some out there that have high cocoa levels with polyphenol levels you would say are consistent with the beneficial effects that are observed. So if you’re talking about say 75%-85% chocolates: yes there are some. We need to have labelling of flavinoid levels on chocolate so that people can identify exactly what the best ones are. That’s coming I’m sure.
Chris – Talking to you Peter. A lot of people say, ‘I am addicted to chocolate.’ Now it sounds to me, from what Roger’s saying, that it would be quite good to be addicted to chocolate if its going to make me live longer.
Peter – Well, possibly. Although the other good news really about chocolate is it’s not very addictive.