Among numerous studies of the health benefits of chocolate, special attention has focused on the island Kuna, an indigenous population of Panama, who are said to drink home-grown chocolate exclusively and thus to enjoy excellent cardiovascular health. Anthropological research among the Kuna calls these claims into question. The Kuna consume a wide variety of homemade and commercial drinks, including store-bought cocoa. They do make heavy use of cacao beans, especially in curing and other ritual, but little comes from their own farms. Low blood-pressure levels and a low incidence of cardiovascular disease, also characteristic of other traditional populations, are likely due more to a low-fat diet and heavy physical labor than to consumption of chocolate. The erroneous results from the Kuna illustrate the dangers inherent in the search for miracle dietary cures.

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