Dark Chocolate Considerations
I hear many people justify their cravings and excessive consumption of chocolate by saying “dark chocolate is good for you”. So what does that really mean? Is it good for you? Are there any health benefits? How much is enough? I hope to dispel some of these myths and facts in a short but factual diatribe on dark chocolate. Lets start by saying that almost all of the benefit from dark chocolate comes from the cacao it contains. Cacao is the bean from which cocoa powder is derived. It is found primarily in Central America and the higher the cacao percentage, the better the chocolate is for you. You should be looking for chocolate or dark chocolate that is comprised of at least 70% cacao. When you have a high concentration of cacao, you get a large proportion of disease fighting flavonoids which are antioxidants also found in red wine and lots of different fruit and vegetables. Dark chocolate is known to have more flavonoids than any other food.
Dark chocolate vs chocolate bars, chocolate cereal and the like.
There is a major difference between pure dark chocolate and chocolate flavored products. Chocolate breakfast cereals, chocolate candy, chocolate milk syrup, and even many chocolate bars do not contain enough cacao to have any health benefit(s) at all. These variations usually have so much sugar, preservatives, and other processed ingredients that they have the opposite effect and contribute to many health problems. You want to avoid them and always be sure to check the sugar, carb, sodium and other pertinent nutrients listed on the back of the product.
Studies find the anti-oxidants can significantly improve blood pressure, prevent blood clots, slow the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (making it less likely to stick to artery walls) and reduce inflammation. There are several advantages of eating dark chocolate periodically. Though chocolate is high in several antioxidants, the blood pressure lowering effect is thought to work through a specific antioxidant called epicatechin that increases the availability of nitric oxide, a compound that has a relaxing effect on blood vessels. This is also beneficial for your neurotransmitters and mood balance.
About one or two squares is considered one serving and more than enough for your daily dose. I know most of you are thinking two dark chocolate bars a
day but lets be realistic here. : )