Researchers: It is possible to get sick of chocolate

August 17, 2010 By Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times

They say that laughter is the best medicine, but some people might endorse chocolate instead. The dark variety has been shown to reduce blood pressure better than a placebo. Scientists credit the flavanols in dark chocolate - they are thought to stimulate the production of nitric oxide, which helps relax the arteries so that blood can flow smoothly.

So if your doctor prescribed a daily dose of dark chocolate to keep at bay, would your first instinct be to head straight to Costco and buy a case of candy bars? Those who answered "yes" might get stuck with leftovers, Australian researchers warned last week in the British Medical Journal.

Karin Ried and her colleagues from the University of Adelaide have spent a good amount of time investigating chocolate's ability to treat hypertension. One of their studies found that dark chocolate worked better than a placebo at getting systolic below 140 mm Hg (low enough to qualify as prehypertensive) and diastolic blood pressure below 80 mm Hg (the top end of the normal range).

Another study compared the ability of dark chocolate and a tomato extract pill to reduce blood pressure among people classified as prehypertensive. It turned out that neither worked better than a , but the researchers reported a startling finding: Some people didn't like taking chocolate as medicine.

Yes, you read that correctly - it is possible to get sick of chocolate.

While 100 percent of study participants said they would be willing to keep on taking the tomato extract pill every day, only 73 percent said the same for dark chocolate. The chocolate used in the study came from a high-end chocolatier and was made with 70 percent , yet two people actually withdrew from the study because they found the candy "unpalatable."

Taste wasn't the only problem, the researchers found. Other reported side effects included headaches and constipation.

And of course, there were worries about the fat and calories. Study volunteers were prescribed 50 grams of dark chocolate a day. That is the equivalent of 1.2 regular-sized bars of Hershey's Special Dark, which pack 220 calories and 14.6 grams of fat, according to nutritional information provided by Hershey's.

So Ried and colleagues weren't too sweet on the idea - floated last month in the British Medical Journal - that could be a suitable treatment for high blood pressure. Based on their own findings, they wrote in a letter published online Aug. 10, "the practicability of chocolate as a long-term treatment is debatable."

Explore further: In Brief: Chocolate increases cognitive performance


Related Stories

Nice but naughty -- our addiction to chocolate

September 11, 2007

Chocolate is the most widely and frequently craved food. People readily admit to being ‘addicted to chocolate’ or willingly label themselves as ‘chocoholics’. A popular explanation for this is that chocolate contains ...

The dark chocolate version of Father Christmas is most filling

December 10, 2008

New research at the Faculty of Life Sciences (LIFE) at the University of Copenhagen – shows that dark chocolate is far more filling than milk chocolate, lessening our craving for sweet, salty and fatty foods. In other words, ...

Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure

June 28, 2010

For people with hypertension, eating dark chocolate can significantly reduce blood pressure. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Medicine combined the results of 15 studies into the effects of flavanols, the ...

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

1 / 5 (1) Aug 17, 2010
Perhaps a fairer test would have been to use a chocolate extract pill to contrast with the tomato extract pill. I'm sure the tomato extract pill didn't have the extra calories or fat that the chocolate had, so IMHO this was not a fair or scientific comparison.
5 / 5 (2) Aug 17, 2010
I would point out that non-compliance with drug regimens is a widespread problem. While there are many reasons given for this, there are a number of patients who find their medication unpalatable for one reason or another. Were the percentages who quit the chocolate regimen significantly different from those who quit any other medication? Also, speaking as a husband of thirty four years standing, I can categorically state that their are women who have consumed that amount of chocolate on a daily basis for many years now and show no signs of stopping.
5 / 5 (1) Aug 18, 2010
I see they used American chocolate - Hershey bars - which are yucky, sickly and far too sweet. They should have used Swiss chocolate. Or Co-op Fair Trade. Even Russian Chocolate is much better than American.
not rated yet Aug 18, 2010
A lot has to do with your palate. Like cosmicelk's wife, my wife would be completely fine with this. Me, I am rarely interested in eating chocolate candy, and will even ignore fine Belgian chocolates sitting out free for the taking.
not rated yet Sep 06, 2010
I'll refuse free milk chocolate. I eat 60% bittersweet dark everyday. Ive nibbled whole cacao- now THAT is an aquired taste that I dont always like. But the benefits of it purety are evident.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.