If you like a little milk with your chocolate, you're not going to like this story.
First, the good news is that there is more evidence today that chocolate boosts the levels of antioxidant chemicals that protect your heart. Unfortunately, researchers say now more than ever that it looks like dark and not milk chocolate is the healthy choice.
In fact, milk skews the effects. Researchers had 12 lucky volunteers eat dark and milk chocolate at different times, with and without milk. One hour after the group ate dark chocolate alone, researchers found an 18% increase in antioxidants in their blood. Antioxidants have been shown to have a protective effect against heart disease and cancer. But when the group ate milk chocolate or even drank milk with their dark chocolate, there was no increase in the antioxidant level.
The theory is that milk may actually interfere with the body's absorption of the healthy ingredients in chocolate. In another study released this week, German researchers found dark chocolate may also help lower blood pressure. In this study, 13 people with mild hypertension were asked to eat chocolate bars instead of another snack choice. Some ate dark chocolate and some at white.
Researchers say the folks who ate dark chocolate experienced a drop in their blood pressure, though not enough to get them into the desired range. The group that ate white chocolate did not benefit. Both researchers say more larger scale study is needed before chocolate or the ingredients in chocolate could be considered for treating illness.
So before you reach for the savory treat, another note from the researchers, chocolate contains saturated fat, so if you choose to indulge, do so in moderation!
The study regarding dark chocolate and antioxidant boost is being published in this week's journal, Nature. The second study regarding dark chocolate and lower blood pressure is being published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association; the research was conducted at the Medical College of the University of Cologne in Cologne, Germany.