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But dark chocolate is good for you - isn't it?

Wednesday 20 July, 2011 by Melissa

Are you a believer?

Do you believe the health advertisements that claim you can lose weight without exercise or diet, get rock hard abs in just a week or, with just five easy payments, you can own an exercising system with ropes and pulleys that clips to your door and turns you into some type of Adonis?


What about the statement that red wine or dark chocolate is good for you?

Or 99% fat free food is always healthy?

Or having a golden, sun kissed skin is attractive and healthy?

As a rational thinking, sometimes intelligent person (depending on who you speak to at least), I like to think that I am well informed on these subjects.

But, there are some things I can choose to believe if I really try, even if evidence to the contrary is out there.

Like dark chocolate and red wine are good for you.

Actually, studies have proven dark chocolate is not all it's cracked up to be.

An article in The Lancet in 2007 stated "to gain any health benefit, those who eat a moderate amount of flavanol-rich dark chocolate will have to balance the calories by reducing their intake of other foods-a tricky job for even the most ardent calorie counter."

So unless you're incredibly dedicated, eating dark chocolate could in fact increase your risk of weight gain/obesity and therefore your risk of cancer.

We all know the awareness campaign that Cancer Council Victoria has been running (and if you don't check it out) to educate drinkers about the heightened risk of cancer from alcohol – including cheap and expensive red wine.

Yet many of us reach for a glass or two of "red ned" at the end of the working day, justifying the indulgence because hey, red wine is good for your heart, isn't it? Sadly these benefits have been hugely exaggerated and the truth is it can cause more health problems than it "solves".

A Heart Foundation study had the following to say about the reality of red wine.

In a study the foundation produced in August last year (regarding anti-oxidants in food and drink) it recommended that men and women avoid red wine and other alcohol as a treatment for cardiovascular disease.

A sobering thought, or perhaps one that saddens the heart a little (as long as it doesn't give you chest pains.)

And what of the 99% fat free foods? Are they always healthy?

Alas, it's not that simple. While foods may be lower in fat, their salt and sugar content may be high.

That's why the Obesity Policy Coalition – a group of leading public health agencies including Cancer Council Victoria – is lobbying the Government for clearer labels on processed foods in the form of a traffic light system which indicates whether levels of fat, saturated fat, sugar and salt are low (green), medium (amber) or high (red). The aim is to give shoppers information at a glance to enable them to make healthier choices.

As for the sun kissed skin, while I would love to have that ‘just stepped off a beach in Hawaii look' (and let's face it, many of us spend millions on lotions and potions to get the look), I realise I would much prefer to avoid the ‘I just stepped out of surgery to have a melanoma treated look.'

Like you, I am now much more aware of the dangers of the sun.

We recommend wearing sunscreen, a hat and protective gear like a t-shirt and sunglasses when at the beach.

Or you could consider getting a fake tan for that Hawaiian-look which is a better option – or not.

So what about you? Are there certain health myths or facts you cling onto in order to justify your lifestyle? We'd love to hear them!


Thanks Vince. Sounds like an interesting study. I think the message here is that we find it very easy to believe good things about things we like and hard to accept the bad! I think a little dark chocolate might be good for you, but strictly speaking, only so long as you adjust your calorie intake accordingly.

From: Shona, 15/04/2013

Am not sure why you did not post my correction re the journal name I was referring to in regards to the clinical trial I mentioned in my original reply. As it stands it's misleading. My fault, bad memory. The journal I was referring to is indeed JAMA[The Journal of the American Medical Association] of 4th July 2007. You should correct my mistake. Regards, Vince.

From: vince, 15/04/2013

Eating chocolate somehow has health benefits like it could lower risks of heart disease. A British study released in which discovered that ingesting chocolate could reduce the chance of cardiovascular disease. Control is also believed to be of key importance, so it doesn't suggest one can eat a whole pint of chocolate guilt-free. Article discussing related subject entitled Study finds link between chocolate and lower risk of heart disease . Believe it or not, but such a good news particularly to those who loves eating it.

From: Neal , 15/04/2013

I read in an AJM[American Journal of medicine]journal some time back about a clinical trial studying the effects of dark chocolate which indicated that a certain rate of consumption[can't remember how many grams per day] has a positive effect on blood pressure.

From: Vince, 15/04/2013

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