Of all the foods available on planet Earth, perhaps the most magical (and interesting) is chocolate. This delectably seemingly addictive food is produced from the beans of the cacao tree whose official name Theobroma cacao reflects the long standing love for chocolate (theobroma being the Greek word for “food of the gods”). In the United States, the average person consumes about 12 pounds of chocolate per year. That pales in comparison to the Swiss, where the average person consumes about 22 pounds of chocolate yearly. Based upon a lot of evidence, Americans might be healthier if they tried to match the Swiss intake.
Health Benefits of Chocolate:
One of the key areas of research into the benefits of chocolate consumption is its effect on cardiovascular disease. A growing amount of recent research suggests that:
- Chocolate can be a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants that are especially important in protecting against damage to cholesterol and the lining of the arteries.
- Chocolate flavonoids prevent the excessive clumping together of blood platelets that can cause blood clots.
- Unlike the saturated fats found in meat and dairy products, the saturated fats found in chocolate do not elevate cholesterol levels.
- Frequent chocolate consumption is associated with a nearly 40% reduced risk for heart disease and a 30% reduced risk for a stroke.
- Chocolate can provide significant amounts of arginine – an amino acid that is required in the production of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps regulate blood flow, inflammation, and blood pressure.
Can Chocolate Help you Lose Weight?
A recent study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine showed that frequent chocolate consumption was associated with lower body mass index (BMI) – a ratio of height and weight that’s used to measure obesity. The authors used data from 972 patients who answered the question, “How many times a week do you consume chocolate?” Their data indicated that chocolate consumption frequency was associated with lower BMI even after adjusting for total calorie intake, exercise activity, and saturated fat intake.
These results are extremely promising. The researchers believe the benefits are once again related to the antioxidant flavonoids in chocolate. They do caution that the benefits of chocolate are only apparent with moderate consumption and that consuming large quantities of chocolate would obviously be counterproductive to losing weight.
Since dark chocolate is higher in flavonoids, it would offer the greatest health benefits. Most experts agree that the recommended “dose” of dark chocolate is approximately 30g to 60g/day (roughly 1 to 2 ounces).
In order to provide the most healthful choices of chocolate products here are some suggestions:
- For the biggest flavonoid bang for your caloric buck, choose high quality dark chocolate. Limit daily intake to 1-2 ounces. The darker, the better.
- Avoid chocolate candies and treats made with hydrogenated fats or refined flour, neither of which promotes health.
- Also pass on products labeled “artificial chocolate” or “chocolate flavored.” These imitations are not even close to the real thing in flavor, texture or health benefits.
- Since the chocolate’s beneficial polyphenols have been removed from white chocolate, I cannot recommend it as a healthful food.
My Personal Chocolate Prescription
In the right form it is a true super food. Of all the foods available on planet Earth, chocolate is perhaps the most magical and maybe one of the best health foods around. So, how do I go about gaining the health benefits of chocolate? I get my chocolate fix is by eating Good Cacao chocolate bars. There are several reasons why I endorse these bars
First, they taste absolutely amazing. And, they are not only packed with the health benefits of chocolate, they are also loaded with superfood concentrates and functional ingredients to improve your health.
And, not just window dressing amounts. Each bar provides effective levels of valuable health promoters including respected branded ingredients. There are four delicious versions each with a specific health benefit in mind:
- Coconut Omega-3 for brain health
- Lemon-Ginger Immunity for immune health
- Nutriberry Superfruit Blend for heart and overall health
- Orange Tangerine to support metabolism