Chocolate is the next super food!
Doesn’t everyone want to believe that!?
Well, actually parts of that statement are true. The cocoa bean it particularly high in flavanols. Flavanols are a group of phytochemicals with health benefits including heart health. However (yes there is a however), the flavanol content of the cocoa bean is severely reduced when the cocoa beans are converted into chocolate. How the beans are processed does matter in how much of the flavanol is preserved or destroyed. Even dark chocolate may not have that many flavanols left by the end of processing (and then again it might but it is difficult to be sure).
According to Nutrition Action Newsletter the European Food Safety Authority (similar to the Food and Drug Administration) concluded that it takes at least 200 milligrams of flavanols to improve blood flow which is important for cardiovascular health.
To get that amount of flavanol from chocolate you would have to eat ~ 2 ounces of dark chocolate which will cost you 320 calories. The point here being that it is possible to gain weight consuming this amount of chocolate, thereby counter acting any health benefit of the chocolate. To get flavanols from chocolate your best bet is to go for unsweetened cocoa powder (~2 tablespoons which will only cost 20 calories). However (yes, one more however…), Dutch processed cocoa is processed with alkali and the flavanol level is next to none. Many of the cocoa mixes contain this type of cocoa powder. Stick to regular natural unsweetened cocoa powder and you will get your flavanols.
Other foods that contain flavanols include, but are not limited to: tea, red wine, berries and apples.
If you are still wanting to go for chocolate (and I don’t blame you here) some good ways to add cocoa powder to the diet include mixing it into your:
Oatmeal (think a pinch of cinnamon, cocoa powder and a touch of honey)
Until Next time: Eat Well, Live Well.