CHOCOLATE FLAVONOIDS—GOTA LOVE’EM!

from University of CA, Berkeley Wellness Letter, February, 2012

Recent large-scale research studies provide the most convincing results to date that chocolate is good for your heart.  In August, researchers in Britain analyzed seven observational studies involving more than 100,000 subjects.

After controlling for weight, physical activity, education and other dietary factors that could influence the results, they published the results in Britain’s BMJ:  Those eating the most chocolate, as compared to those eating the least, had a 37% lower risk of heart disease and 29% lower risk of stroke.

Health benefits from chocolate come from their flavonoids, which have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-clotting properties.  They’re the same substances found in tea, red wine, grape juice and other plant foods.

Furthermore, cocoa flavonoids my also inhibit cholesterol absorption as well as oxidation of LDL cholesterol, rendering it less harmful.  Dark chocolates generally have more flavonoids than milk chocolate.

Though chocolate is high in saturated fats from cocoa butter, it’s mostly stearic acid, which has a neutral effect on blood cholesterol.

An ounce of dark chocolate contains about 20 milligrams of caffeine, compared to 100-150 milligrams in a cup of coffee.  An ounce of milk chocolate has 6 milligrams per ounce.

When choosing a chocolate treat, choose the darkest chocolate you can find.  The first ingredient should be cocoa beans or some variation, such as cacao, chocolate liquor or cocoa mass—not sugar.

Please remember

that processing cocoa beans into commercial chocolate candy greatly reduces flavonoid levels.

that milk chocolate has added fats that aren’t good for your heart and has twice as much added sugar as the darkest chocolate.

that white chocolate is a blend of cocoa butter, sweeteners and flavorings without cocoa solids and no flavonoids.

that chocolate is not a health food.  It’s a treat.

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