Ask Dr. Julie

Can I Eat Chocolate Whenever I Want?

Integrative Medicine Perspective by Dr. Julie T. Chen, M.D.

A recent study came out showing that chocolate is beneficial to our health. But the study didn’t quantify the amount or the types of chocolate we should be eating. I would like to clarify some of my thoughts on eating chocolate and its health benefits since I’ve been recommending it to my patients who have a sweet tooth for years now.

I want to caution those chocolate-lovers out there that this study is not a blanket approval for everyone to run out and eat chocolate all day long. In fact, it is supportive of the concept that antioxidants in our diet are indeed beneficial to overall health and longevity. Cacao, or cocoa, has long been touted as being beneficial based on its anti-oxidative effects on the body. It is when we veer from that and process it to higher levels of sugar content or processed materials, that the health benefits become obscured.

So, as a general rule, keep in mind that foods that are as close in form to what Mother Nature intended are usually the healthiest and most beneficial to us. So, despite this study’s result, I will still be recommending to my patients that they keep to dark chocolates where the percentage of cocoa is at least 60% or greater. This study should not be used as an excuse to consume massive amounts of chocolate daily, especially if the cocoa content is low.

When you take into consideration potential weight gain and the negative effects of being overweight or obese, the benefit of consuming chocolate will be overshadowed. So, see this study as it’s intended to be…that dark chocolate can be beneficial when eaten in moderate amounts if you are craving something sweet. This will ensure that we are satisfying our sweet tooth without sacrificing our overall goal of achieving optimal health.

Dr. Julie T. Chen, M.D. an integrative medicine physician who is board-certified in internal medicine and is also fellowship-trained and board-certified in integrative medicine. She has her own medical practice in San Jose, CA, is the medical director of corporation wellness at several Silicon Valley-based corporations, is on several medical expert panels of websites as well as non-profit organizations, is a recurring monthly columnist for several national magazines, and has been featured in radio, TV, newspaper, and magazine interviews. She incorporates many types of healing modalities into her practice including, but is not limited to, medical acupuncture, Chinese scalp acupuncture, clinical hypnotherapy, strain-counterstrain osteopathic manipulations, and biofeedback. To learn more about Dr. Julie, you can check out her website at www.makinghealthyez.com.

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