Cocoa, antioxidants and your health
Chocolate, which is made from nutrient rich cocoa beans, has naturally occurring, cancer-preventative antioxidants that we all know have great benefits for your body. Cocoa beans contain the antioxidants called flavanols which studies have shown to have protective health benefits (flavanols also found in berries, apples, beans, nuts, purple grapes, red wine, and teas). Antioxidants, as we know, fight off dangerous free radicals in our body, which can cause serious heath problems. Research shows that flavanols found in cocoa and chocolate have health benefits beyond fighting free radicals.
Flavanols have shown to do good things for heart health, including:
- Help lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol
- Help raises “good” HDL cholesterol
- Help reduce blood pressure
The darker the chocolate the better!
Chocolate and cocoa have more then 10 times the antioxidant power of other foods! However, the type of chocolate you eat is important to keep in mind. To choose these nutrient dense chocolates containing plenty of flavanols, look for lightly alkalized or non-alkalized cocoas (known as Dutched cocoa). Look for darker chocolates that are made with at least 40% cacao/cocoa bean content. Remember, we are talking about whole, solid bars, not the caramel-filled kind of chocolate.
Knowing that dark chocolate is good for you doesn’t mean you should eat it on a daily basis or in massive quantities. Remember portion control! Now you can add some chocolate to the mix of other plant-based antioxidant rich foods like fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole-grains.