Saturated fats are mainly responsible for increasing the blood cholesterol levels and at the same time the risk for developing a heart disease. But recent studies have found that Stearic acid, a saturated fatty acid found in cocoa butter may act otherwise.
To prove this a 3-week study was conducted on 11 men, kept on three different diets: oleic acid (a monounsaturated fat, found to decrease the risk of heart disease) diet, palmitic acid (saturated fat found to increase the risk of heart disease) diet and Stearic acid diet. After 3 weeks it was observed that in comparison to palmitic acid, oleic acid decreased the total cholesterol level by 10% whereas Stearic acid reduced it by 14%.
Also an earlier study published in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1997 showed that stearic acid, can boost HDL (“good” cholesterol that helps remove cholesterol from blood maintaining its normal level) levels.
Researchers have therefore suggested that chocolate may help cut down the risk of heart disease. Also chocolates have been found to contain high amounts of antioxidants such as flavonoid and polyphenols. These antioxidants help to prevent heart disease by keeping the blood vessels supple and free from clots.
Despite these benefits some studies warn against eating too much of chocolates as they are high in calories and may contribute to increased weight. However, it is safe to take low sugar, low fat chocolates in moderate amounts.