Although candy is typically perceived as low in nutritional value, scientific research reveals potential health benefits associated with including some types of confectionery in the diet.
Cocoa and Chocolate
Epidemiological studies show that the intake of cocoa- or chocolate-containing products is inversely associated with lower cardiovascular disease morbidity and mortality. Though there are many potential bioactives in cocoa, emerging research suggests that flavanols, phytonutrients found naturally in some cocoa products, may directly mediate these vascular effects. Scientific evidence is also showing that the predominate saturated fat of chocolate products, stearic acid, has a neutral effect on total- and LDL-cholesterol levels relative to other saturated fats.
References and Additional Resources:
- Taking Chocolate to Heart
- The Sweet Truth About Cocoa Butter
- Select studies
- Buijsse B, Feskens EJ, Kok FJ, et al. Cocoa intake, blood pressure, and cardiovascular mortality: the Zutphen Elderly Study. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166:411-7.
- Ding EL, Hutfless SM, Ding X, et al. Chocolate and prevention of cardiovascular disease: A systematic review. Nutr Metab. 2006;3:2.
- Mink PJ, Scrafford CG, Barraj LM, et al. Flavonoid intake and cardiovascular disease mortality: a prospective study in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85:895-909.
- Kris-Etherton PM, Derr JA, Mitchell DC. The role of fatty acid saturation on plasma lipids, lipoproteins and apolipoproteins. Effects of whole foods diets high in cocoa butter, olive oil, soybean oil, dairy butter and milk chocolate on the plasma lipids of young men. Metabolism. 1993;42:130-4.
- Hunter JE, Zhang J, Kris-Etherton PM. Cardiovascular disease risk of dietary stearic acid compared with trans, other saturated, and unsaturated fatty acids: a systematic review. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91:46-63.
There is a role for chewing gum in a healthful diet and lifestyle. In addition to the well-established oral health benefits of sugar-free chewing gum, which is recognized by the American Dental Association, there is growing scientific evidence that chewing gum can provide other functional benefits as well, such as help in managing calorie intake.
- Hetherington M, Boyland E. Short term effects of chewing gum on snack intake and appetite. Appetite. 2007;48:397-401.
- Hetherington M, Regan M. Effect of chewing gum on short-term appetite control and reduced snack intake in moderately restrained eaters. Obesity. 2007;15:510.
- Geiselman P, Martin C, Coulon S, et al. Short-term effects of chewing gum on specific macronutrient and total caloric intake. FASEB J. 2009;23:101.3.