Evidence continues to mount in favour of dark chocolate and its heart healthy benefits, but new research indicates that when consumed with milk, whether in the chocolate or drunk at the same time, all the benefits disappear.
There is currently some speculation that dietary flavonoids - also found in red wine, fruit, and vegetables - from chocolate may promote cardiovascular health as a result of direct antioxidant effects or through antithrombotic mechanisms. However, while plain, dark chocolate has consistently been found to have a notably more pronounced effect than other forms, until now scientists have not explained why.
A team of researchers from the National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Rome, Italy and the University of Glasgow in Scotland claim to have shown that while consumption of plain, dark chocolate results in an increase in both the total antioxidant capacity and the (-) epicatechin content of blood plasma, these effects are reduced by up to half when the chocolate is consumed with milk or if milk is incorporated as milk chocolate.
The team's explanation for this phenomenon is that milk may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate in vivo and may therefore negate the potential health benefits that can be derived from eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate.