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Dark Chocolate

February 1, 2018

 

 

Believe it or not, dark chocolate is full of many nutrients that have proven to be beneficial to your health. That’s great news if you are a chocolate lover, however, like all things, moderation is the key. The darker the chocolate, the less sugar or sweetener it contains. It is this dark chocolate that can improve your health and lower your risk for heart disease. 

 

Dark chocolate is made from the seed of the cocoa tree. Look for a high quality, fair trade dark  chocolate. The higher the percentage of dark chocolate (i.e. 70%-100%), the higher the nutritional value. Soluble fiber and minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium all are found in dark chocolate.

 

A 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains:

 

11 grams of fiber.

67% of the RDA for Iron.

58% of the RDA for Magnesium.

89% of the RDA for Copper.

98% of the RDA for Manganese.

 

Dark chocolate also contains polyphenols, flavanols, catechins as well as other antioxidants. More antioxidant activity has been found in both cocoa and dark chocolate than in other well known antioxidants such as blueberries and acai berries. 

 

Some studies have shown that dark chocolate consumption can lower your heart disease risk, increase your HDL levels and improve your insulin sensitivity. Additionally, it may help to improve brain function by improving blood flow to the brain. Caffeine and theobromine, both found in dark chocolate, could be the reason for this improvement. 

 

Even with all of these benefits, you should still consume dark chocolate in moderation. It is still high in calories and easy to over-consume. Consider having a square or two after dinner and savor it. Again, a high quality, organic fair-trade chocolate, often found in higher end grocery stores or the health food section of the super market, is your best bet. (Step away from the Dove or Hershey’s dark chocolates!) The darker the chocolate, the less sugar it contains and the more beneficial nutrients for you!

 

By purchasing a fair trade chocolate, you are supporting farmers who create safe and environmentally sound work conditions for their employees. 

Follow this link to read more about fair trade products and a list of 17 brands of fair trade chocolates to try!

 

 

 

REFERENCES

Buijsse, B., Feskens, E., Kok, F., & Kromhout, D. (2006). Cocoa intake, blood pressure, and cardiovascular mortality: The Zutphen elderly study. Archives of internal medicine., 166(4), 411–7. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16505260/

 

 

Crozier, S. J., Preston, A. G., Hurst, J. W., Payne, M. J., Mann, J., Hainly, L., & Miller, D. L. (2011). Cacao seeds are a “super fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products. Chemistry Central Journal, 5(1), 5. doi:10.1186/1752-153x-5-5

 

Francis, S., Head, K., Morris, P., & Macdonald, I. (2006). The effect of flavanol-rich cocoa on the fMRI response to a cognitive task in healthy young people. Journal of cardiovascular pharmacology., 47, . Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16794461

 

Grassi, D., Necozione, S., Lippi, C., Croce, G., Valeri, L., Pasqualetti, P., … Ferri, C. (2005). Cocoa reduces blood pressure and insulin resistance and improves Endothelium-Dependent Vasodilation in Hypertensives. Hypertension, 46(2), 398–405. doi:10.1161/01.hyp.0000174990.46027.70

 

Grassi, D., Desideri, G., Necozione, S., Lippi, C., Casale, R., Properzi, G., … Ferri, C. (2008). Blood pressure is reduced and insulin sensitivity increased in glucose-intolerant, Hypertensive subjects after 15 days of consuming High-Polyphenol dark chocolate. The Journal of Nutrition, 138(9), 1671–1676. Retrieved from http://jn.nutrition.org/content/138/9/1671.long

 

Gunnars, K. (2013, June 5). 7 proven health benefits of dark chocolate. Retrieved February 15, 2017, from Authority Nutrition, https://authoritynutrition.com/7-health-benefits-dark-chocolate/

Smit, H. J., Gaffan, E. A., & Rogers, P. J. (2004). Methylxanthines are the psycho-pharmacologically active constituents of chocolate. Psychopharmacology, 176(3-4), 412–419. doi:10.1007/s00213-004-1898-3