By: Shani Goldner MS RD CDN CFI
Chocolate is good for you! You heard right. Cocoa powder and dark chocolate may protect against heart disease. Cocoa has been shown to modestly reduce LDL oxidation and increase HDL levels. The once-prevalent belief that if something tastes so good it can’t possibly be good for you has been replaced by a new picture of chocolate and cocoa products and their relation to sound health and nutrition.
Researchers conducted many studies on the relationship between dark chocolate and heart disease. The main flavonoids in cocoa are flavan-3-ols and procyanidins. These are powerful antioxidants. They provide a variety of benefits such as antioxidant protection and they assist in maintaining vascular homeostasis. The British Medical Journal suggests having 100 grams of dark chocolate every day. This amount has been shown to reduce blood pressure in men and women. Chocolate has been shown to reduce heart disease by 21%.
Most of the chocolate that is available today is made from highly processed cocoa beans. The high temperature used to sweeten the chocolate decreases the amount of phytochemicals left in the chocolate. Try using unsweetened cocoa for maximum health benefits. The darker the chocolate, the more flavinols it contains and it increases your heart healthy benefits by reducing your risk of fatal blood clots.
One third of the fat in dark chocolate is composed of oleic acid. This monounsaturated fatty acid can also be found in olive oil. This helps maintain cardiovascular health. Another benefit of chocolate is its noted positive effect on mood.
Chocolate is best tasted on an empty stomach. Chocolate should be stored at 66-77 degrees Fahrenheit. Do not store chocolate in the refrigerator for it will cause the cocoa to separate and form a white bloom. A couple of serving per week at an ounce each is enough to indulge without the bulge.
Shani Goldner is a Registered Dietitian and a CDN with a Master’s of Science. She runs a private nutrition practice where she counsels children, adolescents and adults in weight loss, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular health and cancer related nutrition. She has a practice in Long Island and Brooklyn. She can be reached at (516) 596-7934 or at (718) 854-5784. She is an Oxford provider. Phone consults are available. For more information please visit www.mynydiet.com