The Mayans did it. The Aztecs did it. And now you can do it too – guilt free. What is it? One of my favorite things in the world – Chocolate.
Cocoa powder and chocolate are gaining recognition in the scientific community as a rich source of fiber, proteins, and vitamins including A, E, and folic acid. The compound in chocolate that is gaining the attention however, is flavonoids.
Flavonoids are naturally-occurring compounds found in plant-based foods recognized as providing certain health benefits. Flavonoids are found in a wide array of foods and beverages, like cranberries, apples, peanuts, chocolate, onions, tea and red wine. There are more than 4,000 flavonoid compounds; flavonoids are a subgroup of a large class called polyphenols.
In terms of chocolate, ClevelandClinic.org writes that flavonoids provide important protective benefits to plants, such as in repairing damage and shielding from environmental toxins. When we consume plant-based foods rich in flavonoids, it appears that we also benefit from this “antioxidant” power because flavonoids may help reduce the cell damage that can spur tumor growth.
It doesn’t stop there; LiveScience.com reported today that a new study suggests that chocolate may decrease your risk of stroke as well as your risk of cardiovascular disease. Science Daily also writes that the "chocolate cure" for emotional stress is getting new support from a clinical trial published online in ACS' Journal of Proteome Research. It found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed.
Okay, so we have a good source of fiber, proteins, and vitamins that contains flavonoids that have antioxidant properties AND can reduce your risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease and decrease your stress levels – and its in chocolate. Yes, chocolate.
Before you head out to the grocery store though, it’s important to note that not all chocolate is created equal. If you’re going to eat chocolate and you hope to get any health benefits out of it, you had better make it dark, like at least 70% dark. Which is also, coincidentally, my favorite!
Dark chocolate contains a lot more cocoa than other forms of chocolate. And standard chocolate manufacturing destroys up to half of the flavonoids. But chocolate companies have now learned to make dark chocolate that keeps up to 95% of its flavonoids, and generally, dark chocolate contains far fewer ingredients.
As with anything, make it organic, and if you doubt me on this one, check this out, unless chocolate is organic it contains pesticide residue and here is what some of those FDA approved levels of residues do to you – negatively affect digestive system tissue, genetic damage, effects on reproduction, carcinogenicity; can lead to acute toxicity, thyroid effects, nerve degeneration; not to mention an increased risk of central nervous system disruption. None of which sounds like a good time.
Eat your chocolate, and remember to make it dark – make it organic – and make it soon!
Here’s to your health!