Facts about Chocolate

The Facts about Chocolate are surprising. Here is a food that can reduce your blood pressure, reduce atherosclerosis, help your heart, and decrease insulin resistance. (Insulin resistance is a the precursors of diabetes.) Who would have thought that something that tastes so good could be so good for you..

Facts about chocolate - heart health benefits. In March of 2006 the scientific journal, Nutrition Review published an article by researchers at the University of California Department of Physiological Nursing, Laboratory of Cardiovascular Physiology in San Francisco.

These scientists stated that Cocoa and chocolate have been found to be rich sources of antioxidant flavonoids. Their favorable effects include: antioxidant activity, vasodilation and blood pressure reduction, inhibition of platelet activity, and decreased inflammation.

In July 2007, the Journal of the American Medical Associations published a study conducted at the Department of Pharmacology, University Hospital of Cologne, Germany.

These researchers studied the effects of of dark chocolate on patients 56 - 73 years of age with above normal blood pressure. They found that in their small sample of otherwise healthy individuals the inclusion of small amounts of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate as part of a usual diet efficiently reduced Blood Pressure and improved formation of vasodilative nitric oxide.

Facts about Chocolate - it increase insulin sensitivity. One of the banes of modern life is 'insulin resistance' a precursor for full blown diabetes. Amazingly there are several short term studies that show that chocolate can increase insulin sensitivity.

In 2005 Scientists from L'Aquila Italy writing in the journal Hypertension stated in that "Consumption of flavanol-rich dark chocolate (DC) has been shown to decrease blood pressure (BP) and insulin resistance in healthy subjects"

In 2008 the Journal of Nutrition published an article that concluded "Blood pressure is reduced and insulin sensitivity increased in glucose-intolerant, hypertensive subjects after 15 days of consuming high-polyphenol dark chocolate."

More interesting Facts A cup of cocoa has more antioxidants than a glass of red wine and almost three times the antioxidants in a cup of green tea. Of course this is the plain cocoa, not a prepared mix which is loaded with sugar.

And it is loaded with flavonoids. It has more flavonoids than most other foods. While apples have 111mg of flavonoids and dark tea or red wine has 63 mg of falvonoids, dark chocolate has 511 mg of flavonoids!

Of course all the health benefits comes from eating of the dark variety - at least 70% cacao. You need to read the labels.

Facts about Chocolate: Best health benefits

  • Eat only the dark kind. Milk chocolate will not do. aim for chocolate with a high level of cocoa solids. The higher these solids, the more polyphenols in the chocoalte.
  • Keep your daily intake to about 100 calories. That is a few small squares. If you eat more, you will start gaining weight and that is not good for your health.
  • Try to use organic chocolate - it is often sold under the Fair Trade label. This not only promotes your own health but reduces pesticide exposure to those who farm it.

Here is a list of some common brands and the total polphenol content of a 40 gram serving.

  • Newman's Own Sweet Dark Dark Chocolate - 955 mg
  • Dove Silk Dark 811mg
  • Endangered Species - Wolf Bear 811 mg
  • Cadbury Royal Dark Indulgent 765 mg
  • Hershey's Special Dark Mildly Sweet 739 mg
  • Chocolat de Dina Extra Dark with Green Tea 676 mg

A few warnings about cocoa and chocolate. The Dutch kind is treated with alkaline substances and is not a good health item. Also, you need to limit your intake to a couple squares a day or you will create some problems from consuming too many calories.

But this is a food not just for Valentines Day or some special occasion. You can improve your health with dark, organic chocolate.

Acknowledgments: The idea to research this topic came from reading: Steven G. Pratt,M.D. and Katy Matthews, Super Foods Health Style William Morrow, 2006.


If you are interested in reading about how cacao is produced, click on Facts about Chocolate: Production

Go to the main page about Anti-aging foods