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Wine, Chocolate & Health

Dr. Lisa Lawless

Dr. Lisa Lawless, CEO of Holistic Wisdom
Clinical Psychotherapist: Relationship & Sexual Health Expert

Wine, Chocolate & Health

Chocolate & Wine Vs. Junk Food

There are so many articles out there, making everyone giddy by telling them that both wine and chocolate are healthy for you. When I read things like this and see friends posting these articles exclaiming how excited they are to consume these supposedly healthy things, I have to wonder just how many others are drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid. I am so tired of shaking my head in disbelief from these fluff pieces that are not only false but are contributing to people harming themselves through unhealthy choices that they have been led to believe are good for them. It is why I am going to be a bit of a buzzkill and lay down some truth for you.

If you are going to indulge in wine or chocolate, you are entitled to know the facts; after all, unlike in the movie A Few Good Men, you CAN handle the truth.

Resveratrol, Not Wine, Is Good For You

When you read an article about wine being good for you, it always mentions resveratrol because that, my friends, is what is good for you, not the wine. However, there is such an insignificant amount of resveratrol in wine that it is better to take a supplement. The resveratrol that one gets in wine is an absurd amount and does not offer much of a health benefit to offset the health problems that alcohol brings.

Let's do the math, shall we? One glass of wine is approximately 5 and 1/3 ounces, so a person taking one 20-mg resveratrol supplement would have to drink 41 glasses of red wine to get the same health benefits they hear about in articles. Even for women's most ambitious, I doubt that the response will be... 'challenge accepted' when it comes to the amount of wine that would have to be consumed.

I mention women specifically because there is an epidemic of alcohol abuse happening, particularly among women right now. You may be thinking you are not a heavy drinker but did you know that high-risk drinking for women is defined as more than three drinks on any single day and no more than seven drinks per week? For men, it is no more than four drinks on any day or 14 per week.

Heavy alcohol use has been linked to severe health problems such as anemia, cancer, cardiovascular disease, cirrhosis, dementia, depression, seizures, gout, high blood pressure, autoimmune issues, nerve damage, and pancreatitis.

During the years 2007 to 2017, the number of deaths attributable to alcohol increased by 35 percent. Still, the most alarming statistic is that deaths among men rose 29 percent and a whopping 85 percent for women. Heavy drinking is being normalized in women, and it is why we are seeing women have dramatic increases in all the health conditions mentioned above at an alarming rate.

Think about it, how many memes, shows, movies have you seen lately depicting women drinking and absurd articles telling you how good it is for you? We are making alcohol abuse not only seem normal, but healthy!

If you are a woman and wear that pink ribbon for breast cancer and get your mammogram thinking you are helping yourself out, keep in mind that the goal of cancer prevention is not just promoting awareness and screening for it but making sure you do things to PREVENT IT.

Alcohol can increase estrogen levels as well as other hormones associated with hormone-receptor-positive breast cancer. It may also increase breast cancer risk by damaging your DNA in cells. Women who have three alcoholic drinks per week (including wine) have a fifteen percent higher risk of breast cancer, so when you drink that glass of wine, please understand that you are not doing ANYTHING healthy for yourself, in fact, quite the contrary.

No Amount Of Alcohol Is Good For You

The studies that came out in the 80s that claimed one glass of wine at night is good for your heart health have been debunked so many times through various studies. In fact, there was a study that came out in 2022 through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that showed that if you're middle-aged or older, if you have even one seemingly innocent glass of wine per night, or any drink for that matter, that is enough to destroy the grey matter in your brain and can lead to Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease. In other words, it causes brain degeneration, so now, with the benefit of 40 additional years of science and studies, we can see that no amount alcohol is good for you.

Cacao, Not Chocolate, Is Good For You

The only good thing in chocolate is the cacao (i.e., cocoa, or cocoa solids/cacao solids), whereas the sugar, dairy, and fat are not good for you. Sugar is horrible for your health. The ultimate healthy chocolate bar with 100% cacao (which also comes in powder form) will be just like baker's chocolate, which is very bitter. It is best consumed in a green smoothie or mixed with water or nut milk with a natural sweetener like stevia if one is trying to be healthy to make it palatable. Understanding how to integrate that into your diet through healthy smoothies and other nutrition is good for your health and your sexual functioning.

Milk chocolate contains so much sugar and milk that it may have as little as 10 percent cacao, which is the minimum required by the FDA for calling it "chocolate" on the label. This pertains to a chocolate bar, so the chocolate cake would be a fraction of that and not healthy. Those authors that I have seen writing articles saying chocolate cake is good for you because it has cacao should seriously be ashamed of themselves. It is just as ridiculous as claiming that smoking is good for you because nicotine lowers the risk of Parkinson's disease and enhances attention.

Be Wary Of Heavy Metals In Chocolate

In December of 2022, Consumer Reports reported that they had tested 28 different dark chocolate bars and found cadmium and lead in all of them, which can lead to various severe health issues such as hypertension, immune system suppression, kidney damage, and reproductive problems. 

Don't make a mistake and think that organic is better. Even if chocolate is organic, it can still contain high levels of cadmium and lead. 

Ways To Avoid Cadmium & Lead In Chocolate

  • Choose dark chocolate brands with the lowest levels of heavy metals.

  • Eat chocolate only occasionally.

  • Eat dark chocolates with a lower cacao percentage.

  • Alternate with milk chocolate which has fewer heavy metals.

  • Don’t give much dark chocolate to kids or pregnant people to avoid brain development complications.

Ways Chocolate Manufacturers Can Provide Safer Chocolate

  • Chocolate Manufacturers should ensure that they survey cacao-growing areas to measure lead and cadmium levels and source from places with lower levels.

  • Explore ways of reducing and removing lead and cadmium during the manufacturing process.

  • They should implement updated handling practices to reduce lead and cadmium levels, as the National Confectioners Association suggested.

Examples Of Dark Chocolate Brands With Lower Amounts Of Heavy Metals

Mast / Organic Dark Chocolate 80% Cocoa
LEAD 14%     CADMIUM 40%

Taza Chocolate / Organic Deliciously Dark Chocolate 70% Cacao
LEAD 33%     CADMIUM 74%

Ghirardelli / Intense Dark Chocolate 86% Cacao
LEAD 36%     CADMIUM 39%

Ghirardelli / Intense Dark Chocolate Twilight Delight 72% Cacao
LEAD 61%     CADMIUM 96%

Valrhona / Abinao Dark Chocolate 85% Cacao
LEAD 63%     CADMIUM 73%

Studies Should Be Scrutinized

Studies that support how good chocolate and wine are for you can often be traced to the very industry selling them or a study that focuses on the one component of the wine (resveratrol) or chocolate (cocoa) rather than the wine or chocolate as a whole. For example, note how slippery the author was in one article when they claimed: "the best-known source of resveratrol is wine," not that the best resveratrol source is wine. Big difference considering that there is barely any resveratrol in wine.

Adverse Health Effects Outweigh The ONE Good Ingredient

Next time you read that wine, chocolate bars, or cake is good for you because it has cocoa or resveratrol in it, remember it is fake news! Sure, wine and chocolate taste awesome, but it is NOT good for you because it has ONE healthy ingredient, let alone a minimal amount of one. Please note that I am not saying you should not occasionally enjoy chocolate or wine, because if you are going to indulge, then by all means... enjoy it! However, please don't buy into the hype that you are doing your health any favors because ignorance is not bliss when it comes to taking care of yourself.

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