In 1847 a British father-son team made the first commercially produced chocolate bar from cocoa powder paste and sugar. Two decades later in Switzerland, Daniel Peter invented milk chocolate. Now, 151 years later, the confection is being consumed for its health benefits.
This has happened in part because there's some science supporting the health claims, which range from protecting your heart to shielding your skin from sun damage, and the chocolate industry has been pushing that message in a major way. Seems Mars alone has funded 100 studies, and all but two came to positive conclusions. Hmmm. With such prolific PR, it's not surprising that chocolate sales in the U.S. grew from $14.2 billion in 2007 to $21 billion in 2014.
So what are the facts? According to the National Institutes of Health, Panama's Kuna Indians consume 10 times the cocoa you might eat (ground from the bean, not all smooth and creamy) and have a dramatically lower risk of cardiovascular problems. Psst! You won't get those benefits from a milk chocolate candy bar loaded with added sugars and syrups. Dark chocolate also contains significant levels of flavonoids that may fight high blood pressure, diabetes and even cancer. (You can get many of the same nutrients from fruit and vegetables.)
So if you do opt for chocolate, skip the cake and candies. Stick with 1 ounce a day of 70 percent cacao dark chocolate. Cacao, the powdered bean, has a good dose of nutrients and can put a healthy smile on your face.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit sharecare.com. (c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.