You Can Binge On Dark Chocolate!

April 10, 2011

This is one of the best news in years, well, at least for me. Several studies published in prestigious scientific journals say that dark chocolate (and only dark chocolate, not white chocolate or milk chocolate) is good for you. Very good for you.
I know, you probably have already heard about this, but today we’re going to explain you exactly why dark chocolate makes it into the healthy food list.

Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure

According to a report published in The Journal of the American Medical Association dark chocolate lowers high blood pressure.  Dr. Dirk Taubert and his team at the University of Cologne, Germany found out that plant phenols (cocoa phenols, to be exact) have the effect of lowering blood pressure.
In particular, it is has been found that chocolate lowers blood pressure when cocoa flavanols spur the release of nitric oxide, which dilates blood vessels and increases blood flow. Chocolate also has been linked to improved learning and memory, also due to this effect of improving circulation.
Chocolates made in Europe are generally richer in cocoa phenols than those made in the U.S. But apparently we are catching up also on this side of the ocean.
But that's no license to go on a chocolate binge. Eating more dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure, if you've reached a certain age and have mild high blood pressure, say the researchers. But you have to balance the extra calories by eating less of other things.

Antioxidants in dark chocolate

Dark chocolate is a very powerful antioxidant, even more powerful than red wine and, hard to believe, of green tea.
In particular, dark chocolate contains catechins and phenols.
Until now tea was thought to contain the largest amount of these antioxidants but new research indicates that dark chocolate has four times as much as compared to tea. It has been found that dark chocolate has 53.5 mg of catechins per 100 gm, milk chocolate contains 15.9 mg per 100 gm, and black tea contains 13.9 mg per 100 ml.
Chocolate, like the red wine, contains phenols. These reduce the presence of free radicals that damage cells and DNA. Phenols are said to prevent the oxydation of fat-like substances in the blood stream that can ultimately results in clogging the arteries.
A study conducted by the National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Rome, Italy has found out however milk may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate, and may therefore negate the potential health benefits that can be derived from eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate.
Translation: say "Dark, please," when ordering at the chocolate counter. And not only dark but dark chocolate with at least 70% of cacao, keeping in mind that the higher the cacao content the better is for you. I once tried the 99% one, but find it really too bitter. Instead, I really liked the raw cacao nibs, kind of bitter but totally enjoyable taste. And if health is your excuse for eating chocolate, remember the word "moderate" as you nibble.


Just remember to balance the calories. A 100-gram serving of dark chocolate scores 531 calories.
A hint: Don't replace healthy foods with chocolate. Most people's diets have plenty of sweets, switch those for some chocolate if you're going to try the truffle treatment.



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