A recent Dutch study suggests eating chocolate -- especially dark chocolate -- may be a healthy habit after all.
Researchers at the National Institute of Public Health and Environment in Bilthoven, the Netherlands, studied the levels of a type of anti-oxidant called catechins in chocolate. Anti-oxidants are molecules that help protect cells from damage and the body from disease.
Researchers found chocolate contains four times the level of catechins than black tea, a common source of the anti-oxidant. High consumption of black tea has been linked to lower rates of heart disease and cancer. Dark chocolate contained 53.5 mg. of catechins per 100 g. of chocolate; milk chocolate contained 15.9 mg./100 g., and black tea contained 13.9 mg. per 100 mL. of tea, researchers report in the August 7 issue of The Lancet.
"In the end," researchers conclude, "the old Dutch habit of drinking a cup of tea and eating a chocolate cookie might be not only enjoyable, but healthy as well."
The findings support other recent studies that have found healthy benefits of chocolate. In May, 1999, California researchers reported that cocoa, which contains anti-oxidants called flavonoids, may reduce the risk of heart disease. And last December, the British Medical Journal reported eating moderate amounts of chocolate may increase longevity.
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