Print Share RSS

Your Heart

Man giving woman box of chocolate

Receiving Valentine’s chocolates or candy hearts from a special someone can make your heart do a happy jump and make you feel loved.


Sweet Truths:

Chocolate May Contribute to Positive Heart Health

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.

Visit The Story of Chocolate to learn more about this sweet treat.

Reference: Chocolate and Heart Health

Cocoa Butter Is a Unique Solid Fat with Surprising Effects on Cholesterol

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

People Who Eat Candy Can Maintain Good Heart Health

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




Chocolate and Heart Health

  • Hooper L, Kay C, Abdelhamid A, Kroon P, Cohn JS, Rimm EB and Cassidy A. Effects of chocolate, cocoa, and flavan-3-ols on cardiovascular health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2012;95:740–51. Available online.


Cocoa Butter and Cholesterol

  • 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, USDA. Available online
  • Kris-Etherton PM, Derr JA and Mitchell DC. The role of fatty acid saturation on plasma lipids, lipoproteins, and apolipoproteins: I. Effects of whole food 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. Available online
  • Kris-Etherton PM, Derr JA, Mustad VA, Seligson FH and Pearson TA. A milk chocolate bar/day substituted for a high carbohydrate snack increases high density lipoprotein cholesterol in young men on a NCEP/ADA step one diet. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 1994;60(6):1037S-42S.


Candy and Heart Health

  • Murphy M. Frequency of candy consumption and dietary and health characteristics of adults age 19-50 y in the United States. Exponent. Oral Presentation at Experimental Biology 2012. April 22, 2012.