Chocolate!

Since February is National Heart Month, I thought it a great time to discuss one of my favorite foods: chocolate! We’ve been hearing for a while now that chocolate can actually be good for us since it is full of antioxidants. Flavanoids are antioxidants and anti-inflammatory, and chocolate is high in these compounds. Did you know that dark chocolate actually has the highest flavanoid content of any food? That’s pretty good news to lots of people out there with sweet tooth’s. Chocolate can decrease blood pressure by 3 points and increase insulin sensitivity, both of which are important for heart health. But did you know not all chocolate is created equal?

For chocolate to have the health benefits we want it must be at least 70% cocoa. Better to go higher, but beginners will get benefits at 70%. Any lower and the sugar and milk content render the antioxidant capacity meaningless. If a chocolate bar does not have the percentage listed on the label, that means it is a candy bar and won’t offer any benefits for you.

Chocolate that is labeled “Dutch” or has been processed with alkali have lost virtually all of the flavanoids. About .001% of the original flavanoid content will be left after these processes. Chocolate is “dutched” or processed with alkali so that it is less bitter and more palatable to our sugar-hijacked taste buds.

Some awesome brands to try out:

Righteously Raw

Dick Taylor

Fruition

Alter Eco

While research into dark chocolate is promising, it is not conclusive, and only switching to dark chocolate without changing other dietary and lifestyle factors will likely not give great benefit. Most studies looked at less than 1oz of chocolate a day, so you don’t need much to get benefits. It is nice to know though, that when we are craving a little something sweet dark chocolate is a healthful choice.

-Lara Lattman

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