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Dark Chocolate Health Benefits

Love is in the air.

I walked into a Walgreen’s store earlier and it was wall to wall Valentine’s Day "stuff" from Teddy Bears to balloons, cards and of course, aisles and aisles of … chocolate. 

And each year is the same thing and we get the same questions. 

Is chocolate healthy?

Should I eat it?

How much?

Let’s get right to it.  Research has shown, that dark chocolate – but not milk chocolate or white chocolate – has heart health properties.

With Valentine’s candy everywhere people may wonder about the health benefits of chocolate

So the question is – does a chocolate a day really keep the doctor away?

Let’s take a look some of the data that are out there.

Research published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and others have examined this question – and the answers are promising.

It starts with the antioxidant properties of dark chocolate.  Antioxidants can be thought of as scavengers in the body that gobble up dangerous free radicals and other destructive molecules. 

Think of antioxidants like Pac-Man – and the destructive molecules as the Ghosts in the game that Pac-Man gobbles. 

Of course antioxidants aren’t just in dark chocolate – they’re in fruit and veggies, tea, and loads of other foods.   But dark chocolate is one of the highest sources of antioxidants called flavonoids and catechins, two powerful ones. 

Of course other foods are better sources of other antioxidants, so variety is key.

A recent study published in the Southern Medical Journal examined the effects of dark chocolate on inflammation, lipid levels, and the stickiness of the blood in 28 individuals.

They fed the individuals 1 oz of dark chocolate daily for 7 days. 

The results: 

  • LDL (the bad cholesterol) dropped by 6%
  • HDL (the good cholesterol) increased by 9%
  • hsCRP (inflammatory marker) decreased

While this was a short study, it can be combined with the other positive data that are available to support the inclusion of dark chocolate into the diet.  Other studies suggest including dark chocolate into a varied diet lowers blood pressure too.

Mohr Results Bottom Line:

  • This isn’t a “free pass” to gorge on chocolate daily — and, no, MOST Valentine’s candy isn’t dark chocolate
  • Aim for chocolate that has at least 70% cacao (it will tell you this on the package).  We personally love 100% cacoa nibs in our yogurt — adds some great crunch and since they’re bitter without the added sugar that’s normally in chocolate, the yogurt does a nice job to offer the sweetness needed.
  • Dark chocolate does not mean King Size Twix, Heath Bars, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, etc.  It means quality chocolate, without the added junk.
  • Limit that intake to about 1 oz once in awhile (not every 10 minutes).  It still contains lot of calories and fat, so if you want to include chocolate, keep those calories in check by reducing your intake elsewhere.

Another favorite thing to do in the Mohr House — take a scoop of UNSWEETENED cocoa powder (you know, the stuff you bake with) and add it to a smoothie.  Not necessarily romantic for your sweetheart … but surely great little boost of antioxidants, telling him/her that you want them to live longer. :-)

One of our favorites and one I’m sipping as I write this:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop BiPro unflavored protein powder
3 LARGE handfuls spinach
1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree (sticking with the Halloween theme)
1 heaping TBS unsweetened cocoa powder

1 frozen banana
1 cup frozen cherries (although any berry works)

Blend up and enjoy!

Make sure the addition of chocolate is part of all the other heart health diet strategies we’ve talked about like those below.

Avocados are a Healthy Source of Fat

Eggs and Heart Disease

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18 Responses to Dark Chocolate Health Benefits

  1. Mike Grafstein February 12, 2010 at 7:51 am #

    I read some where else that it should be at least 85% cacao… and that as you go lower the effectivness drops.

  2. Grace February 12, 2010 at 9:33 am #

    I enjoy your short newsletters very much. Many a time I would like to read the studies that you cite in full or at least the abstracts.

    May I suggest that you include the references to your cited studies.

    Thanks.
     

    • Chris and Kara Mohr February 12, 2010 at 3:18 pm #

      We appreciate the feedback — yes, we will start putting the full references at the end of the articles. Thank you

  3. Ray K February 12, 2010 at 1:13 pm #

    I heard the hype about 1-1/2 yrs ago and so I started consuming one square a day of 70% + Cacao (about 1 oz) until I ended up with a myriad of kidney stones last summer. I tend to steer clear of chocolate now. I really wish that when we talk about the pros that  we'd also include the cons.  I don't know that chocolate caused all the stones(I've had 3 bouts with stones now over 20 yrs, the first two were one stone each, the third was myriads according to the doc) but chocolate is now on top of my quit list and I'll do everything I can to never have stones again. 

  4. Ray K February 12, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    Also I bought into the hype about how good Red wine is for a person. Started drinking roughly a glass a day (men can have up to two glasses a day right?) and the next thing I knew I came down with Gout. Gout is the enemy for all runners. Now I drink water 99% of the time. Again pros and cons, guess I just need to do more research before I buy into any good for you recipes.

  5. Diana McCalla February 13, 2010 at 8:21 pm #

    Even more important than the cocoa content is how the chocolate is processed. You need chocolate that is cold-pressed and unprocessed as commercial processing destroys most of the flanonoids (the same as cooking vegetables at high temperatures for long periods of time destroys the vitamins and antioxidants).  Only one company I know of is ethical enough to certify the finished product as to it's antioxidant and flavonoid content.  They add no processed sugars, no bad fats, no preservatives and remove all traces of caffeine.  And it is the most delicious, decadent Belgium chocolate you have ever tasted.  All seven delicious products can be found at:  www.cocoa101.com.

  6. REANNA ESPOSITO, BURGESS June 11, 2010 at 12:24 am #

    I LOVE DARK CHOCOLATE. I NEED TO EAT IT IN MODERATION. WHAT IS A REALLY GOOD DARK CHOCOLATE TO BUY? WHAT ABOUT DARK CHOCOLATE MOUSSE? WHAT ABOUT DARK CHOCOLATE PUDDING? ARE ANY OF THESE ANY GOOD FOR YOU TO LOOSE WEIGHT? WHICH ONES ARE? I REALLY LOVE DARK CHOCOLATE, BUT I WOULD REALLY LIKE TO TRY SOME THAT IS LOW IN CALORIES, IF THERE IS SUCH A THING? PLEASE EMAIL ME BACK AND LET ME KNOW ASAP. THANK YOU, REANNA.

    • Chris and Kara Mohr June 11, 2010 at 5:27 am #

      Aim to get chocolate that is at least 70% cacao — then one thing we like to do is melt it and drizzle it on fruit. Great combo, particularly with fruits like pineapple and banana.

  7. Dave B July 24, 2010 at 2:53 am #

    How about Baker’s chocolate. It is 100% Cacao.

  8. Patrice Daniels November 7, 2010 at 7:11 pm #

    Thank you for confirming what I have found to be true. I had the best 70%-cocoa- chocolate bar that I didnt get the opportunity to eat all of I accidently threw it away toady but I will go and get a new bar tomorrow. Try an organic bar, just delicious at first I was like eww this is strong but then the chocolate bemon creeped in yummy.

  9. Dan Arteritano December 1, 2010 at 10:40 am #

    Yes not all chocolate, even dark chocolate is not created equally. My blog references articles and sources of studies about dark chocolate and I offer dark chocolate products without fillers, artificial preservatives and with low glycemic sugars. The important factor is the process which retains the antioxidants and flavonoids which are the processed out of most foods. We have products that range from 210 calories for 3 pieces, a daily serving, down to 100 calories. And it is delicious!
    My blog has studies about blood pressure, stroke prevention and stroke victims, artery hardening for smokers, reducing cravings and more, all independent studies and reports.
    Enjoy

  10. David Mura November 1, 2011 at 5:50 am #

    Great Post, We handed out Larabar sample size this year.
    We got some crazy looks and questions as to “what is this?”
    We also got some “Oh I love those! Can I have the cherry?”

  11. weightloss slim November 1, 2011 at 3:45 pm #

    Dark chocolate is certainly better for you than milk chocolate. The key is to have enough will power to only eat a small amount.

  12. Mark February 28, 2012 at 2:30 pm #

    That’s the problem with dark chocolate for me. I buy a bar, and it’s too tempting not to eat the whole thing. I just keep going back for more “hits” :)

    luckily for me I don’t have a weight problem, but still.

  13. M.Amico March 4, 2012 at 1:33 am #

    I agree with Ray K. that pros and cons should be stated in every findings just because information can be overwhelming.

  14. Weight Los Experts July 26, 2012 at 2:57 am #

    Yea the dark chocolate is kinda a problem for me as well. I think it is better to just dont buy it at all, then trying to overcome the temptation of not eating the whole bar.

  15. Anjum Omer September 24, 2012 at 2:19 am #

    how much dark chocolate is an ounce..i mean how many bars approximately?
    n will it help me lose weight…coz i am on a diet plan..and i am a serious chocoholic..am addicted….but now im trying my best to control..but is it ok to have a bar of dark chocolate everyday..or is it better on alternate days…
    n how many calories wud that contain?/

    • Chris and Kara Mohr September 26, 2012 at 5:31 pm #

      It will tell you on the package

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