By: Nikki Nies
Chocolate has been tooted as a “healthy” indulgence. Guys and gals clamor to their feet to celebrate such announcements! Before we get ahead of ourselves, I hate to burst your bubble, but I want to make sure every one knows why chocolate is healthy in moderation!
Chocolate derives from the cacao plant, which is flavanol rich phytochemical. Flavanols are a type of antioxidant rich flavonoids. It’s important to note that not all types of chocolate have an equal distribution of flavonoids, with dark chocolate found to be the most antioxidant rich. Second best is unsweetened baking chocolate, which has the second most amount of flavanol content per serving. Moreover, the more nonfat cocoa solids chocolate contains, the more antioxidants it has.
Nutrient Content of Chocolate: Cacao contains saturated fat, mostly in the form of stearic acid, which has been noted not to contribute to elevating cholesterol levels. Monounsaturated fat and palmitic fatty acid are also present.
The issue that comes up with chocolate is when “milk fat”,”coconut butter”, “coconut oil”, “palm oil” and/or “partially hydrogenated vegetable oils” are added.
Potential benefits of chocolate in moderation:
- Reduce risk of heart attack, blood pressure, LDL oxidation, platelet clumping
- May contain anti inflammatory properties
- Increase insulin sensitivity
- Improve arterial blood flow and/or chronic fatigue syndrome
- Help resist cell damage
With news of chocolate’s potential health benefits, companies have made efforts to provide more flavanol rich products. Hershey’s has its own Cacao Reserve and CocoaVia by Mars has come out with its own line of flavanol rich dark chocolate!
Limit chocolate to no more than 15-30 grams of chocolate per day! Two Hershey kisses may not sound like much, but you don’t really need more than that to “taste” the goodness of chocolate!