Chocolate Research: The Worst Study of the Week!

by Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS
Self-Growth Official Guide to Nutrition

In my book,
”The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth” I list chocolate as one of the best foods on earth.

Chocolate is also one of the seven foods that make up what researchers writing in the British Medical Journal called “The Polymeal”, a kind of supermeal that, if eaten daily or even a few times a week, could conceivably reduce heart disease and death by double digit percentages.

So what about this new study that suggests that regular consumption of chocolate may weaken bone density and strength, which in turn could increase the risk of health problems such as osteoporosis and fracture?

According to the study, published this month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who eat chocolate daily have an overall bone density 3.1 per cent lower than those who consume it less than once a week.

Already, the media is reporting things like this statement found on the normally smart NutraIngredients website: The findings will surely come as a blow to the positive image of dark chocolate, often feted for having its heart-healthy properties.

Should you be worried? Was I- and everyone else wrong about chocolate? Is this another example of nutritionists “changing their collective mind”?

Nope. This is quite simply one of the dumbest studies ever published.

Why is this the dumbest study ever done? Because- I hope you're sitting down- the researchers didn't bother to distinguish among the types of chocolate consumed!

So here’s the deal: what the researchers really found was that women who eat candy on a daily basis have weaker bones than those who don't. There was absolutely no distinction made between a Hershey's Milk Chocolate bar (which has virtually no protective flavanols) and an 80% cocoa dark chocolate treat.

This is why people go nuts when they hear nutrition research and feel like experts don't know what they're talking about. Many studies say chocolate is great (for lowering blood pressure among other things) and now this study says it's bad. No wonder the public gets confused.

But the truth is, they're using the word chocolate to talk about two entirely different substances. A candy bar with tons of sugar, wax, emulsifiers, chocolate flavoring and no naturally occurring phenols to speak of is not the chocolate we mean when we talk about high cocoa dark chocolate, even though these researchers didn't seem to notice the difference, and referred to both of them as "chocolate".

That’s like doing a research study on “athletes” and not bothering to distinguish between Olympic runners and retired shuffleboard players.

Since the researchers didn't bother to ask, let me venture a wild guess. The ladies in this study were not consuming 70% cocoa dark chocolate daily, they were eating candy bars. Just a wild guess.

The results of this study should have been reported this way: Sugar contributes to weak bones.

This study actually has nothing to do with the kind of chocolate I wrote about in”The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth”, and that you've correctly heard is a very healthy food. It has to do with candy and sugar.

It's unbelievable that the researchers didn't know enough to distinguish the two.

Author's Bio: 

Jonny Bowden, PhD, CNS is the author of "The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth” as well as two other best selling books. A board certified nutritionist with a Masters degree in psychology, he is a featured health writer on America Online and was the Weight Loss Coach for for ten years. A popular and dynamic speaker, he has been contributed material to over 50 national publications and appeared on CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox News, CNN and MSNBC as a nutrition, weight loss and health expert. Dr. Bowden is Self-Growth's Official Guide for Nutrition. For more info, free newsletter and free audio courses, please visit him at

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