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Is dark chocolate really a health food?

A web search for ‘is chocolate a superfood’ yields almost 7 million results, with news and wellness sites featuring chocolate on their lists of must-eat nutritious foods. But can confectionery – even if it contains less sugar than most – ever be that good for us? Sue Quinn investigates

THE SANE VIEW

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Once upon a time, chocolate was seen as an indulgent treat. Now, if some headlines are to be believed, it’s approaching the status of a health food. To enjoy a few squares of dark chocolate these days is synonymous with boosting your brainpower, lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of heart disease. So is this all just wishful thinking, or is there a scientific basis to the story? Chocolate companies have had their own role to play in research to discover if chocolate is good for us. Over the past few decades, chocolate manufacturer Mars, as just one example, has poured millions of pounds into researching the science of chocolate, with many of its studies drawing positive conclusions. The focus has fallen on the health-enhancing, disease-fighting potential of compounds called flavanols, which are found in cacao beans. These compounds are also found in green and black tea, apples, pears, berries – and red wine. Once thought to be antioxidants – substances that prevent cell damage – scientists now believe flavanols are broken down in the gut and serve a different function. And two flavanols found in cocoa, epicatechin and catechin, have sparked particular scientific interest.

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About delicious. Magazine

We’re celebrating summer in our June issue with cocktail cheesecakes – hic, hic, hooray, fish dishes and delights from the Med, not to mention the FREE 16-page Italian special. Elsewhere Ben Tish roasts pork with peaches, Gill Meller grills a rack of mutton and Felicity Cloake embarks on a Famous Five-style feast. Followers of foodie fashion will love the Caravan cornbread brunch, Berber & Q sharing feast and the latest hot cake from Dominique Ansel’s bakery. Plus we have two sweet and succulent strawberry and meringue desserts.

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