We girls often resort to chocolate to soothe a broken heart. Turns out, chocolate is actually good for your heart but not just any chocolate, just the best kind — Dark Chocolate! Before you gulp down a bar, I like have done before, remember that moderation, doctors say, is the way to go.
Why has Chocolate been getting so much positive press?
Chocolate has been getting positive press lately because it is believed to have the ability to protect our cardiovascular system. This ability is thought to stem from cocoa bean’s richness in flavonoids, a class of plant nutrients. Flavonoids not only help protect plants from toxins in the environment, they also help repair damage. When we consume flavonoid-rich foods, we also leverage its “antioxidant” power!
Antioxidants help the body resist damage caused by free radicals formed during the body’s regular processes, such as breathing, and also from environmental pollutants like cigarette smoke. If the body lacks the antioxidants it takes to combat oxidation, free radicals could cause it harm. For example, in the event of increased oxidation, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) may form plaque on the artery walls.
The main type of flavonoids found in chocolate is flavonols. Apart from its antioxidant properties, flavonols are said to have other amazing benefits — they lower blood pressure, improve the flow of blood to the heart and the brain, and help blood platelets become less sticky and able to clot.
Other foods rich in flavonols are cranberries, peanuts, apples, red wine, tea and onions.
What kind of chocolates are good for you?
Swiss: Lindt and Toblerone are now selling chocolate bars with extremely high cocoa contents. These brands tend to contain much higher flavonoid levels than American candy bars. But, they do not match up to cold-pressed natural chocolates.
Natural: Natural chocolate makers sauch as Dagoba and Xocai sell superior healthy dark chocolates. While Dagoba takes the organic route, Xocai uses a cold manufacturing process. Dagoba offers an 87 per cent cocoa bar, while Xocai promises a full 100 per cent of flavonoid nutrients regardless of the percentage of cocoa in its natural chocolate products. Also, its unprocessed chocolate bars do not contain processed sugars.
Enhanced: Combining dark chocolate with foods such as almonds or blueberries could enhance the level of nutrients you can get. But remember that this could mean additional calories so once again moderation is what comes to the rescue!
Both Xocai and Dagoba add acai berries to some of their chocolates. Swiss chocolate makers usually add hazelnuts, almonds, honey and other healthful foods. Healthy chocolate could be added to other antioxidant rich foods too. For example, Almond manufacturer Blue Diamond sells an almond milk beverage that is fortified not just with vitamins A and E, and calcium, but also heart-healthy chocolate!
What about all of the fat in chocolate?
The fat in chocolate comes from cocoa butter. Cocoa butter contains the same amount of oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. Palmitic acid and Stearic acid are kinds of saturated fat. You may have heard that that saturated fats are linked to increases in LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
Research indicates that stearic acid has a neutral effect on cholesterol, neither raising nor lowering it. Palmitic acid does affect cholesterol levels, but it only makes up one-third of the fat calories in chocolate.
So, chocolate is not as bad for you as you would have once thought. But still, it needs to be eaten in moderation.