Easter is just around the corner, so this week is about Chocolate! I am not a chocoholic… I never have been.. maybe as I never had it as a kid for a treat or snack and therefore it wasn’t a taste I acquired. I could live without it ( Just in case your thinking……yes I do have vices .. ) but for many of you that is not the case. So some good news out there about the benefits of chocolate. This is not the Mars bar type of chocolate that is loaded with sugar but the pure kind made with 70/80% cocoa. Please enjoy this week’s article which is derived from info from the WSJ. If you are motivated to get a hard core dark chocolate rabbit for easter… hurry in to CHAO before they sell out!
Is Chocolate a Health Food?
Chocoholics are rejoicing amid a proliferation of new scientific evidence showing cocoa may be good for the heart. But most chocolate is packed with calories and unhealthy sugar. A wave of new products with high levels of pure cocoa is being marketed as a way to enjoy chocolate’s benefits without empty calories.
The cocoa bean, actually a seed, grows in pods on trees. It contains compounds called flavanols, which have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow and reduce overall risk of heart disease. Three scientific analyses published in the past six months pooled results of smaller studies to conclude that cocoa is good for the heart. Scientists believe flavanols work, at least in part, by stimulating production of nitric oxide, which relaxes vessels and improves blood flow.
Most chocolate isn’t labeled with milligrams of flavanols and there’s no industry or scientific standard yet for measuring flavanols in chocolate. One objective measure is the cocoa percentage on the label. Milk chocolate can be as little as 10% cocoa paste by weight, with the rest in sugar, milk and other ingredients. Dark-chocolate bars typically contain 50% to 60% cocoa by weight, scientists say.
“The higher the percentage of cocoa, the higher the flavanol content, the higher the antioxidant content and thus we believe the greater positive health benefit,” says Washington, D.C., nutritionist Joy Dubost, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, a trade group.
A growing number of specialty products are offering higher-test cocoa, as much as 100%, which makers say are minimally processed to retain as many nutrients as possible.
My take on the above information is that a little goes a long way. If you are trying to lose weight one square of the 70-80% chocolate after dinner is more than enough.