Some argue that chocolate may help prevent cardiovascular disease and better your memory, but is it true? There have been studies conducted to see if chocolate really was correlated with the prevention of heart disease and dementia and it seems that it’s not really the chocolate that is helping but the flavanols that the cocoa beans contain. Flavanols are bioactive compounds that have a unique blend of phytonutrients which can only be found in the cocoa bean. Although there has not been enough clinical trials to determine whether or not flavanols can help prevent heart disease, flavanols can relax blood vessels and stimulate blood flow to the brain.
Chocolate is made with many components but cocoa solids and cocoa fat are the main ones. Cocoa solids are rich in flavanols but the cocoa fat doesn’t have any flavanols at all. Using those two components, plus other ingredients, you can make the four most popular types of chocolate; cocoa powder, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate.
Cocoa powder is produced by fermenting, roasting, and crushing cocoa beans into a paste-type of substance. Then the fat is removed and ground into a fine powder. Naturally processed unsweetened cocoa powder is great for you because it is rich in flavanols and low in calories.
Dark chocolate is made of cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and sugar. The amount of flavanols you get from dark chocolate varies: You might be getting a high dosage of flavanols but in the process you will also be digesting a lot of calories.
Milk chocolate contains cocoa powder, cocoa butter, milk solids and sugar. It has less cocoa than dark chocolate therefore having less flavanols. In order to get a high dosage of flavanols from milk chocolate you would have to consume over 1,000 calories of it.
Chocolate is a great source of flavanols but just make sure you watch how much chocolate you eat because it is also high in calories. Eating chocolate is a great alternative to eating baked goods, so if you eat it in moderation it shouldn’t do you any harm!
Flavanol-rich Food for Thought