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Nutr Today. 2002 May-Jun;37(3):103-109.

Chocolate: A Heart-healthy Food? Show Me the Science!

Author information

Sandra M. Hannum, MS, RD, is a research dietitian at the University of Illinois, Division of Nutritional Sciences, and has a clinical nutrition private practice. Her areas of interest are cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.; Harold H. Schmitz, PhD, is the Manager of Science for Mars, Incorporated. His research interests center on the characterization of phytochemicals in foods and subsequent elucidation of their influence on human health, especially in the context of vascular biology.; Carl L. Keen, PhD, is a professor of nutrition and internal medicine at the University of California, Davis, and currently chairman of the Nutrition Department. Dr Keen conducts research in areas of developmental nutrition and on the influences of diet on the development and progression of chronic age-related diseases.


Cocoa and chocolate foods produced by appropriate methods can contribute significant amounts of heart-healthy flavanols to the diet. These flavanols may enhance cardiovascular health by delaying blood clotting, improving vascular endothelial function, and helping to moderate inflammation. The benefits of chocolate can be enjoyed without guilt as part of a healthful balanced diet.


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