Is Chocolate The New Superfood?

by James Kerrison on April 5, 2009

easter-eggWith Easter on the horizon and the consumption of chocolate sure to increase, I thought it would be a good time to look into the research.

There is a lot of data surrounding the health benefits of chocolate and these are regularly brought up in the defense of eating swags of it.

Chocolate is made from the fruit of the cocoa tree, the cocoa bean. So that makes chocolate a fruit right!! Just like many other plant based products it contains a variety of vitamins and essential minerals. Also, the fats that come from the bean contains fats which, unlike many others, doesn’t increase cholesterol levels.

Sounds pretty good so far. The problem is that most of the positive research is based on dark chocolates with 65% cocoa solids or more. Generally speaking, the darker the chocolate the higher the level of beneficial cocoa solids. They contain less additives such as sugar and other unhealthy vegetable fats which cover the naturally occurring bitter taste of quality dark chocolates.

The higher quality chocolates also have a higher level of antioxidants. The standard measure for antioxidants, the ORAC scale, shows us that dark chocolate has 13,120 ORAC units/100g and milk chocolate has only 6,740 units/100g. The other interesting fact is that it appears the presence of dairy reduces the level of antioxidants absorbed into the bloodstream.

So the news might not have been what you had hoped for. Dark chocolate in moderate amounts (one or two pieces, up to three times per week) is what you should be aiming for to reap the health benefits and not be adding extra inches to your waistline.

There is some good news however. If you are getting the rest of your diet and exercise right 80-90% of the time you can afford to get a bit of the sweet stuff in over the weekend. It is Easter after all.

James

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