Is Dark Chocolate Healthy? | HealthiNation

Uploaded by HealthiNation on 16.02.2012

What has been used for centuries to cure everything from upset stomachs and raging fevers to sagging
libidos? It’s not what you think, It’s chocolate! (Or rather, chocolate’s main
ingredient cocoa.)
We know that the ancient Aztecs ground cocoa seeds with seasonings to make a bitter, spicy
drink they thought promoted good health. And long before that, there is evidence that a
similar concoction was consumed for its power to nourish, strengthen, and be an aphrodisiac.
By the time it was brought from the Americas to Europe about 500 years ago, it was a mixture
of cocoa, flour and spices, and quickly became a foundation for prescriptions used in hospitals.
Now it’s important to note that “chocolate” and “cocoa” are not the same thing. “Cocoa”
is the non-fat component of finely ground cocoa beans. Cocoa is used in chocolate making
or as cocoa powder for cooking and drinks. “Chocolate” refers to the combination
of cocoa, butter, sugar and often other ingredients that are made into a solid food product.
Aside from the energy jolt from the sugar and caffeine, is there really an advantage
to consuming chocolate? You may be thrilled to know that a number of recent studies say
“yes”! At least if it’s dark chocolate.
Chocolate’s essential health benefits probably come from the strong antioxidants in the cocoa
called flavonoids. Antioxidants can reduce inflammation throughout the body, a cornerstone
of overall health since inflammation has been linked to a number of chronic diseases including
diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer. Even a small amount of dark chocolate can
also lower blood pressure, and keeping blood pressure levels low is especially important
for cardiovascular health.
Since the flavonoids are the nutritional powerhouse ingredient in cocoa, you need to know that
it’s the cocoa that gives chocolate it’s healthy antioxidants and also it’s brown
color. That’s why dark chocolate is a better choice than milk chocolate. White chocolate
is made from the fatty part of the bean with no cocoa at all in it. So white chocolate
has no antioxidants and no brown color.
Here’s what I tell my patients: Choose dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% percent
or higher. Limit yourself to no more than 3 ounces (85 grams) of dark chocolate a day,
which is the amount shown in studies to be helpful. Because this amount may contain up
to 450 calories, you may want to cut calories in other areas or step up your exercise to
If you’re looking to increase your intake of flavonoids as part of an overall healthy,
balanced diet, other good sources include tea, grapes and wine, as well as various fruits
(especially apples), and certain berries.
And if you give or receive dark chocolate as a special present, you might feel even