Our Love Affair with Chocolate
Let’s talk about our love affair with chocolate! Not all chocolate is created equal. It is the cacao in chocolate that delivers health benefits, not the added milk or sugar.
The Research - The benefits of cacao are generally noticeable in dark chocolate, with a cacao content of 70% or more. When we talk about the “benefits of chocolate,” we are referring to the constituents and effects of the cacao bean.
Cacao is one of the highest known antioxidant whole foods we can source. Rich in minerals, riboflavin and essential micronutrients for health and vitality. Cacao also contains theobromine that boost endorphins.
While chocolate is most often thought of as a mood-altering comfort food, it is loaded with heart-healthy flavonoids. These flavonoids are the same constituents that give red wine, grapes, and berries their dark color and antioxidant effect. In studies with white chocolate –which is devoid of these flavonoids—none of the cardiovascular benefits as seen with dark chocolate were evident.
- Study 1 - 34,000 post-menopausal women who were put on a high flavonoid diet including chocolate had a 22% lower risk of developing coronary artery disease. (8)
- Study 2 - men who consumed high amounts of cacao (2.3g/day) had a 50% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to men who did not consume cacao. (9)
- Blood pressure and cholesterol levels were lowered with only 6g of dark chocolate a day. (10)
- Study 3 - 20 subjects with high blood pressure who ate 100g of dark chocolate saw a significant drop in blood pressure and a 10% drop in cholesterol. (11)
To Indulge, or Not to Indulge?
For the most part, chocolate is highly processed and loaded with sugar. A higher cacao content usually indicates a lower sugar content.
If you do not have any pre-diabetic issues, then one or two small pieces a week of the darkest chocolate enjoyed after a meal may be fine.
Remember, the amounts of chocolate that were found to deliver the most therapeutic effects were very small. It doesn’t take much sugar to over-stimulate the nervous system and push blood sugars to high levels.
Read the whole article at:
8. Amer J Clin Nutri. March 2007
9. Archives Internal Medicine. 2006
10. JAMA. July, 2007
11. Journal of Hypertension. 2005