Crazy for Cocoa
We were dying to know… Is chocolate healthy?
The nutritional content of a raw cacao bean
Originally dubbed “food of the Gods”, the cacao (or cocoa) bean is known to contain over 300 healthy compounds.
A 2006 study focused on the link between dark chocolate and its ability to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in men. The study included 470 elderly men and measured their blood pressure at the start of the study, five years later, and incorporated a fifteen year follow up. The men consumed cocoa-containing foods, which over the course of the study, reduced blood pressure and subsequently, the risk of cardiovascular death.
Certain types of flavanols in cocoa can influence the circulatory system.
But, because of the variability in processing, and the added sugar and milk, we cannot guarantee the amount of flavanols in all dark chocolate. However, we understand that the raw cacao products can be less appetizing and we want to help our readers ascertain how much and what kind of chocolate to eat in order to satisfy a sweet tooth without going overboard!
From our research, when it comes to serving size, the best recommendation to reap the nutritional benefits of chocolate without over-consuming fat or sugar is roughly 10 grams of dark chocolate. To put that into perspective, that is little under 1 serving (about 8 chips) of dark chocolate from a bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips with 48% cacao OR about 10-11 chips of 60% cacao dark chocolate chips. Keep in mind, if you are looking at a chocolate bar, the average serving size will be larger—typically between 40-50 grams.
Compared to a yodel or a piece of cake, dark chocolate is obviously the better option. However, you still want to be mindful of the extra fat and sugar that you are eating along with the cocoa!
The Bottom Line:
The nutrients found in chocolate come from the raw cocoa bean. As the cocoa bean is roasted, refined, and processed to created a delicious sweet treat, the dense nutrient compounds can be lost in the process. A serving of dark chocolate will provide you with some vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but the most powerful source of these healthy compounds is from raw cocoa products.
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