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FROM CHOCOLATE TO GLOBAL WARMING: THE CORPORATE TAKEOVER OF SCIENCE

by Mark Klempner and Cara Siano

If you think the news about chocolate being healthful for your heart and brain is too good to be true, you’re right: The research is less encouraging than the reporting about it. For instance, a Talk of the Nation public radio feature touts flavanols as the "magic molecules" in cocoa, shown in studies to relax blood vessels and increase their flexibility, yet ignores the obvious fact that when cocoa becomes but one ingredient in chocolate, whatever heath-healthy virtues it possesses are offset by saturated fat and sugar.

     Similarly, the San Francisco Chronicle offers its readers "Some Sweet News: Chocolate Could Be Good for Your Memory," but neglects to mention that researcher Ian Macdonald found no difference in cognitive test performances after his subjects drank a cocoa mixture; its only effect, as indicated by MRI scans, was to increase blood flow to the brain. (Decreased cerebral circulation is associated with memory problems in certain populations, so it is conceivable that cocoa, as well as other substances with flavanols such as apples, grapes, and green tea, could help with that.)

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