Receiving Valentine’s chocolates or candy hearts from a special someone can make your heart do a happy jump and make you feel loved.
Recent studies of more than 90,000 adults of mixed ages, ethnicities, and genders who ate chocolate regularly for years showed they were more likely to maintain good cardiovascular health. Studies have linked consumption of chocolate and cocoa products with markers of heart health such as healthy circulation, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.
Research suggests that flavanols, natural compounds found in plants such as cocoa trees, may contribute to a number of these surprising effects.
Reference: Chocolate and Heart Health
Stearic acid is the primary saturated fat in cocoa butter, accounting for about one-third of cocoa butter's total fat and more than half of its saturated fat. The remaining saturated fat is primarily palmitic acid. Oleic acid is the primary monounsaturated fat in cocoa butter.
Stearic acid does not raise LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels like other saturated fats and trans fats do. For this reason, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report recommends that stearic acid not be categorized with known “cholesterol-raising” fats, including other saturated fats and trans fats. See more research on cocoa butter and milk chocolate.
References: Cocoa Butter and Cholesterol
Other recent research found that candy consumption is not associated with higher blood pressure or LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, nor lower HDL (“good”) cholesterol.
Even people who eat candy every other day or more are no more likely to be at risk than people who eat candy less frequently. However, it is important to eat candy in moderate amounts and be mindful of how many calories you are consuming.
Candy has not been shown to have a detrimental effect on heart health. In fact, the overall findings indicate that eating some kinds of candy, such as flavanol-rich dark chocolate or cocoa, may help support heart health.
The best approach is to eat candy in moderation as part of a lifestyle that balances calories with regular physical activity.
Reference: Candy and Heart Health
What’s considered a small amount of chocolate? Visit How to Treat Right for guidance.