Chocolate as heart medicine? Not for those hearts that chocolate’s caffeine sends bumping around in their ribcages, it isn’t. How about doing another article, this time on the deleterious effects of caffeine in various medical conditions (erratic hearts being just one)?

Caroline Vickrey
Bethlehem, Pa.

To be told that research is putting chocolate with tea and wines in antioxidant properties sounds too good to be true. And it is too good to be true. I love chocolate and was glad to see that research is being done to find the beneficial properties of it, even if the candy companies are paying for the research. Which is probably why there was no mention of sugar’s presence in chocolate and how one might get the benefits of chocolate without the long-term poisoning effects of sugar. Chocolate pills just like garlic pills?

Jon Long
Birmingham, Ala.

Your article lacked a certain journalistic balance. You could have mentioned–however briefly–that much of the chocolate on the market has both a very high sugar content (leading to obesity and adult-onset diabetes) and high saturated fat content (leading to obesity and atherosclerosis) and that the isoflavenoid content would be insufficient to balance the harm caused by these. The article might then have appeared as less of an industry propaganda piece. Of course, those of us who are chocoholics need little encouragement to indulge our addiction.

Robert J. Rosov
Wichita, Kan.

I think the last paragraph of the story deals with the issue to which you’re referring–whether the consumption of chocolate should be encouraged. In fact, as Norman Hollenberg noted, Americans have been eating chocolate–lots of it–without a justification beyond taste. All the new data do is indicate that such indulgences may offer benefits that offset some of the potential risks .–J. Raloff If chocolate-producing companies desire to actually put their business on a scientific basis, they should start by mentioning on each package the percentage of cocoa content in a product. In some European countries, chocolate products show their content in pure cocoa (not cocoa butter). A summary reading of the ingredient labels on most American-made chocolate products shows that the cocoa comes in the fourth or fifth place, after sugar, milk, and cocoa butter.

David Gijiriguian
Whitestone, N.Y.

Great article on chocolate, but your cover sent the wrong message. Most of the candies and treats in the picture are of the type that are almost invariably loaded with tropical oils, hydrogenated fats, or milk fat. The article makes no mention of the fact that most chocolate treats contain such things, the health tradeoffs of which would be anyone’s guess. The only chocolate candy that contains no such compounds is high-quality semisweet or bittersweet chocolate. Such products are not even available in the average candy store, mall, or supermarket. If you don’t believe it, read the labels.

Vincent Sawka
Fredonia, N.Y.