Monday, October 28, 2013

Chocolate Healthy? Can chocolate make you healthier?

Maybe it is fitting Valentines Day Hearts be filled with Chocolate?

Chocolate for health? Chocolate for Heart Health: The Darker the Better - ABC News -
"Researchers at San Diego State University... suspected that dark chocolate consumers would see the most health benefits from the dark chocolate, which among the various types of chocolate has the highest concentration of flavonoids. Flavonoids are compounds produced by plants that function as important pigment molecules. They’ve gained popularity as the substance responsible for the cardioprotective effects of red wine."

Mayo Clinic's website has an interesting article by Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., Can chocolate be good for my health?  Zeratsky recommends the following:
"Choose dark chocolate with cocoa content of 65 percent or higher. Limit yourself to around 3 ounces (85 grams) a day, which is the amount some studies have shown to be helpful. Because this amount may provide up to 450 calories, you may want to cut calories in other areas or step up the exercise to compensate."

Cleveland Clinic also weighs in about the relative health benefits of chocolate.  

Heart-Health Benefits of Chocolate Unveiled

  • Flavanoids help protect plants and repair damage, these anti-oxidant effects impact us when we eat these plant foods
  • Anti-oxidants help the body protect and repair itself from damage due to free radicals
  • Flavanols "are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research shows that flavanols have other potential influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.
    These plant chemicals aren’t only found in chocolate. In fact, a wide variety of foods and beverages are rich in flavonols. These include cranberries, apples, peanuts, onions, tea and red wine."
 "What about all of the fat in chocolate?
You may be surprised to learn that chocolate isn’t as bad for you as once believed.
The fat in chocolate comes from cocoa butter and is made up of equal amounts of oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. Stearic and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fat. You may know that saturated fats are linked to increases in LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
But, research shows that stearic acid appears to have a neutral effect on cholesterol, neither raising nor lowering it. Although palmitic acid does affect cholesterol levels, it only makes up one-third of the fat calories in chocolate. Still, this does not mean you can eat all the dark chocolate you’d like.
First, be careful about the type of dark chocolate you choose: chewy caramel-marshmallow-nut-covered dark chocolate is by no means a heart-healthy food option. Watch out for those extra ingredients that can add lots of extra fat and calories. Second, there is currently no established serving size of chocolate to help you reap the cardiovascular benefits it may offer, and more research is needed in this area. However, we do know that you no longer need to feel guilty if you enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate once in a while.
So, for now, enjoy moderate portions of chocolate (e.g., 1 ounce) a few times per week, and don’t forget to eat other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, red wine, tea, onions and cranberries."

If you're looking to incorporate more chocolate flavonols into your diet, Dove Chocolate Discoveries has a lot of great Dove Dark Chocolate options for you to enjoy.  

If you'd prefer a lighter delivery method, our new Dove Vitalize drink mixes are delicious and healthy!