Friday, December 21, 2012


You might have heard the good news: the powers that be have decided that chocolate is good for us. Those of us who have a relationship with chocolate couldn't be more pleased. It turns out that humans have included chocolate in their diets for thousands of years, and not just for dessert. The Aztecs, Maya, and Olmecs knew of the healing properties of cacao, and consumed a drink made of cacao seeds.

Like most fruits, the cacao seed is full of antioxidants. These healing properties are derived from cocoa flavanols, the plant-based nutrients in cocoa which have been intensely studied for their health benefits.

Chocolate contains the same flavonoids found in red wine and tea. Flavonoids are potent antioxidants and have been linked to numerous health benefits. Surprisingly, chocolate has these antioxidants in even higher concentrations. One bar of dark chocolate has twice the flavanol content of a glass of red wine and seven times the amount as green tea. Most of these benefits have to do with their Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC). The ORAC is a measure of the ability of foods to neutralize harmful free radicals. Free radicals are associated with many diseases such as Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, cataracts, cancer and more. Chocolate is a concentrated source of antioxidants—other fruits and even vegetables don't come close. Prunes are in second place behind chocolate at 5,770 ORAC units per gram, but dark chocolate has 13,120 ORAC units per gram!

How Much is Too Much?
It is best to think about the antioxidant content as you look at the percentage on the label of a chocolate bar - essentially, the higher the percentage of cocoa the better. Dark chocolate has the highest amount of cocoa and less sugar. Currently, most sources say about 6.3 grams of dark chocolate (one square inch) per day is sufficient for a tasty antioxidant boost.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Nancy Silva, ND
Faculty, Health Sciences Dept


Susie said...

Wow!!! Never knew that this plant have lots of benefits. I have seen this fruit and I thought it was just an ordinary fruit. By getting to know this, I wanna try it out.

Erin said...

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder is also a fabulous choice!

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