Chocolate: good for the heart and brain, or just wishful thinking? from the February 2014 Harvard Women's Health Watch

Whether it comes inside a big red heart or wrapped in gold foil, chocolate is synonymous with Valentine's Day. The February 2014 Harvard Women's Health Watch investigates whether the health claims often made for this indulgent treat are as sweet as they sound.

According to the headlines, chocolate is "good for you," "heart-healthy," and able to "sharpen seniors' brains." But does this indulgent treat live up to its hype? The answer is yes—and no.

"The media snatch up a cocoa story and say, 'Eating chocolate is good for you, go out and eat chocolate bars.' That's not it," says Dr. Eric Ding, a research scientist in the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health. The reality is that ingredients in cocoa can be healthy, but the high-calorie chocolate bars that contain it aren't necessarily good for you.

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