September 26, 2016
Last Updated:
March 4, 2021

Would You Take a Chocolate Pill?

What if you could have chocolate every day for four years without worrying about weight gain? But there’s a catch—you’re not able to taste the sweet, soothing flavor.

Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, a Boston-based organization affiliated with Harvard Medical School, are hoping to recruit 18,000 men and women to take part in a study of the potential health benefits of a cocoa supplement pill.

Dark chocolate has long been lauded for its health benefits to the heart and brain. It’s also been shown to boost serotonin levels, making you feel happier after consuming it, and a report earlier this year suggested it may play a role in improving athletic performance. 

The health perks chocolate boasts come from flavanols in dark chocolate, which can improve blood flow, resulting in cardiovascular benefits. “What we've seen is that intake of dark chocolate is associated with a greater ability of blood vessels to dilate when they should," IIN visiting teacher Dr. David Katz, told NPR for its coverage of the study. But by consuming the compounds in a sweet (and delicious) chocolate bar, you’re also taking in extra calories, fat, and sugar. Also, different varieties of chocolate bars have varying levels of the beneficial compounds.

So, scientists are wondering, what if they could remove the excess and go straight to the source with a cocoa pill that delivers a guaranteed measurement of the good stuff?

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Through the four-year Cocoa Supplement and Multivitamin Outcomes Study (COSMOS), participants will take two cocoa extract pills and one multivitamin per day for four years (half of the participants will be given a placebo pill). Scientists will monitor the participant’s health to determine if taking the cocoa supplement can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. Men over 60, and women over 65, who have not had a heart attack are eligible to participate.

Of course the downside is that many chocolate lovers would agree that the best immediate benefit of chocolate is the taste. “One of the beautiful things about chocolate is that it's a source of great pleasure," Katz told NPR.

Would you trade in (or limit) your chocolate intake in favor of a more potent pill? Share with us in the comments below!

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