Study: Tea, Chocolate Good For Heart

Looking for a heart-healthy snack? A cup of tea and a chocolate bar might be just the thing, according to a new study.

A review of 66 published articles supports the view that consuming flavonoid-rich tea or chocolate, in moderation, can reduce risk for cardiovascular disease.

“Since tea, without milk or sugar, contains no calories, it’s an ideal way to add antioxidant flavonoids to your diet without increasing your weight,” said Dr. Penny Kris-Etherton, distinguished professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University and lead author of the review.

“Having a chocolate cookie that also contains fruit and nuts along with the tea, if consumed in moderation, can be a heart-healthy snack,” Kris-Etherton said in the review, published in the Jan. 17 issue of Current Opinion in Lipidology.

Although she cautioned that no single food will provide immunity from illness, Kris-Etherton said that both tea and chocolate, which are plant foods, can be components of a healthy diet if eaten in moderation along with fruits and vegetables.

The antioxidant effects of the flavonoids in tea and chocolate are one possible explanation for the beneficial effects seen in the 66 studies.

The researchers hesitated to recommend specific amounts of tea or chocolate because there’s not enough information available, they said.

They found that the average cup of tea brewed for two minutes contains about 172 milligrams of flavonoids. Drinking one cup could be expected to cause an immediate positive effect and about 3.5 cups could possibly produce a continuing effect.

Chocolate was even more difficult to recommend, they said, because commercially available chocolate varies widely in flavonoid content.

“The message that individuals should try to consume a variety of food products that are rich in flavonoids on a daily basis is one that could be defended with today’s information,” the researchers wrote.

While the authors warned that chocolate needs to be consumed in moderation and in low-fat and low-sugar forms because of the potential to gain weight, they discounted concerns about cholesterol.

“As has been noted by several authors, concern over the fat content of chocolate may be overemphasized since the major form of fat in chocolate, stearic acid, is cholesterol-neutral when it is presented in the diet in moderate amounts,” researchers said.

(By Laura Bobendrier,, Jan 2002)
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