How does chocolate affect my cholesterol?

Chocolate is full of flavonoids, which are antioxidants that help lower cholesterol. It also has oleic acid, the same type of heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil. To improve your cholesterol, just have a little nibble—up to 1 ounce of dark chocolate a day. And check the label to make sure your chocolate is at least 70 percent cocoa. Cocoa is the stuff with all the heart-healthy ingredients.

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

Studies have shown that Dark chocolate can be heart healthy. Dark Chocolate is made from the cocoa beans of the Theobroma cacao fruit tree, it is rich in flavonoids, more specifically, flavanols, which are phytochemicals and antioxidants that can be heart healthy.

Antioxidants counteract oxidation, a harmful chemical reaction that takes place in your body. This protects the “bad” LDL cholesterol from becoming oxidized that contributes to the hardening of the arteries and heart disease.

Keep in mind that chocolate, if you eat a lot of it, can be high in calories. Obesity is a risk factor for heart disease. Hence, a little dark chocolate along with a heart healthy diet and lifestyle may be good for your heart.

Emilia Klapp
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

High-quality chocolate contains a large amount of cocoa butter, which does not contain cholesterol because it is extracted from the cacao bean. Cocoa butter contains three kinds of fatty acids: palmitic fat, a saturated fat in small amounts; stearic fat, a saturated fat that does not affect cholesterol levels; and oleic fat, a monounsaturated fat that can protect us from many ailments, including cardiovascular disease. If you eat quality chocolate—not chocolate made with large amounts of sugar and hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils—you actually can reap important health benefits, such as antioxidants. The maximum amount of chocolate recommended daily is about 50 g.

Dr. Marcus J. Cox, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Chocolate contains a chemical often referred to as flavonoids, which are the same chemicals found in red wine. This has been found to lower LDL cholesterol as well as to exert a protective effect against heart disease. Dark chocolate contains higher amounts of flavonoids and therefore may be more beneficial. As always, it is recommended to consume only in moderation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.