Chocolate Is Even More Healthful Than You Thought

chocolate 

Thinking of giving--or sharing with--your sweetheart something sweet for Valentine' Day, for example a box of chocolates?  Well, why not?  Chocolate is not only delicious but, for an ever-increasing number of reasons, is actually healthful (in modest amounts).

There are many good reasons for eating chocolate regularly—from boosting your mood to contributing to your good health.  Moreover, Shelf Life Advice told you about a study proclaiming that chocolate may even help you stay thin!  To see that article, click here: http://shelflifeadvice.com/content/latest-good-news-about-chocolate.  To learn about many other benefits of eating chocolate, just keep reading.

 

Research findings published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and reported in USA Today in October, 2011, were conducted by Swedish scientists who studied more than 33,000 women. Their results showed an association between chocolate consumption and reduced risk of stroke. (Two candy bars a week= 20% reduction).  The cheery info from this study has been circulating widely in the press and on Internet sites. So how much chocolate does this research suggest that you should eat or drink and in what form?  Read on for information about everything from dark chocolate squares to—believe it or not--chocolate ale.

 

Susanna Larsson, associate professor in the Division of Nutritional Epidemiology at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, authored the study referred to above.  She says, “Cocoa contains flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and can suppress oxidation of low-density lipoprotein [‘bad’ cholesterol], which can cause cardiovascular disease [including stroke].” She adds that dark chocolate consumption has also been found to reduce blood pressure, lower insulin resistance, and help keep blood from forming clots.  She explained that, though the study was done on women, she assumes the result would be similar for men. 

 

About 90% of the chocolate consumed in Sweden is milk chocolate, which contains about 30% cocoa [cacao] solids.  But, to those who want to add chocolate to their diets for health benefits, Dr. Larsson recommends dark chocolate, which contains more flavonoids. But, as you know, chocolate candy also contains sugar, fat, and caffeine, all of which your doctor may want you to limit or even eliminate, especially if you have high blood pressure or irregular heartbeats. Fortunately, according to amanochocolate.com, the caffeine content in a small piece of chocolate is not very high, though it’s higher in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate.

 

Since chocolate began getting such positive press, dark chocolate bars with 72%- 85% cocoa (often spelled cacao) have been cropping up everywhere.  Drugstores and supermarkets have made both milk chocolate and dark chocolate easy to find, putting it on display in conspicuous spots, often by the check-out counter. The various brands of large, flat dark chocolate bars we purchased are scored so that it’s easy to break off one or two squares.  The brands we’ve checked contain roughly 60 calories per square, so if you consume 1 square per day (the amount commonly recommended) as your dessert after dinner, that’s a lot fewer calories than what’s in a piece of pie or a dish of ice cream.  And a little chocolate is surprisingly satisfying to the “sweet tooth,” in our opinion. At the 1 square per day consumption rate, one bar (weighing between 2.5-3.5 oz.) will last 8 days. In the Larsson study, he women who ate 2.3 ounces of milk chocolate per week had a 20% stroke reduction rate. That amount of dark chocolate with 72-85% cocoa might lead to even better results.

 

You can also give your cardiovascular system a boost if you get your chocolate in the form of unsweetened cocoa powder (which is 82% nonfat cocoa solids) in a glass of skim milk. That doesn’t tempt your tongue? Try adding a little sugar or artificial sweetener to make it more palatable.

 

Enough about health.  How does chocolate improve your mood? Food scientist Shirley Perryman, from Colorado State University, explains it this way: "Substances in chocolate trigger mood enhancing chemicals in the brain to create feelings of giddiness, attraction, euphoria, and excitement.”

 

You may feel even giddier--maybe too giddy--if you consume your chocolate in an alcoholic beverage.  Don’t get carried away with consuming chocolate this way, or you may wind up getting literally carried away. However, we promised to tell you about chocolate ale, so here’s the message: Boulevard Brewing had such success with this beverage last Valentine’s Day that this Kansas City Brewery is making almost three times as much this year. Chicago Tribune reporter Josh Noel, writing about this product, said this: “Most chocolate beers are deep, dark-roasted porters or stouts, which makes this ale’s warm, golden hue a surprise….Chocolate Ale is bright, clean and surprisingly refreshing before segueing into a lingering chocolate effervescence.”  How much will it do for your cardiovascular system? If you are a great fan of both beer and chocolate, who cares? 

 

Wondering about the shelf life of chocolate if you follow the good advice to consume it slowly?

If you left a chocolate bar on your coffee table for months, the chocolate would still be fine. It can last that long if not devoured quickly because cocoa is rich in flavonoids. A food goes rancid when its fat breaks apart as a result of oxidation. Flavonoids hinder oxidation, so chocolate doesn't go rancid on the shelf.

 

For more information about chocolate on Shelf Life Advice, click here and/or go to the Q/As in the Product section by typing “chocolate” into the search box on the home page. For a discussion of the difference (and lack of difference) between cocoa and cacao, click here.

 

 

Source(s):

 

usatoday.com “Chocolate may cut women’s stroke risk, study says”
http://yourlife.usatoday.com/fitness-food/diet-nutrition/story/2011-10-10/Study-Chocolate-may-cut-womens-stroke-risk/50722996/1

 

amanochocolate .com  “Chocolate Does Have Caffeine”
https://www.amanochocolate.com/articles/caffeineinchocolate.html

 

ShelfLifeAdvice.com “Is Chocolate Good for You?”
http://shelflifeadvice.com/content/chocolate-good-you-0

 

chocolateincontext “Chocolate Linguistics: You say Cocoa, I say Cacao”
http://chocolateincontext.blogspot.com/2007/06/chocolate-linguistics-you-say-cocoa-i.html

 
 

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