Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dark Chocolate: Tastes great; reduces chance of dying from stroke?

Could chocolate lower the risk of stroke? - CTV News

Chocolate and Valentines Day are synonymis.  But most of the chocolates available are simply chocolate flavored fat without much else going for them.

Dark chocolate seems to be the exception as this variant is packed full of antioxidants that are believed to have anti-inflammatory properties that may have positive health effects.

I love dark chocolate.  I make my own dark chocolate muffins (low cal healthy of course) and frequently buy dark chocolate bars.  I've recently switched to brands that are "Fair Trade" and organic.

I don't eat too much at one time as chocolate, as we all know, is packed full of fat.  Those big bars (100g) are about 550 calories with 40g of fat.  That's only a few grams off the total fat intake thats needed for a whole day (40 to 60g), and 25 to 30% of most peoples total caloric needs for a day.

If you did down a whole chocolate bar in one day you would have to cut out a meals worth of food or add another hour of moderate exercise to balance your calories in/ out for the day.

If you're downing the smallar sized bar (50g), that's still 225 calories, or about half a meals worth of energy, and near half the fat intake for the day.

Two study's (follow link above for more info) have shown that one 50 g serving of dark chocolate per week decreased deaths from stroke by 22 to 46%, but a third study showed no relation.

There are other studies that show positive health affects from consuming dark chocolate so the academic trend appears to be leaning towards approving dark chocolate as a possible health promoting food.

The researchers for these recent studies did emphasize that eating too much chocolate will lead to fat gain, which brings with it all the known heart disease risks.

Look for 65 to 75% cocoa content for the deep flavors and the proposed antioxidant benefits, with about 70 to 72% being the most popular sweat spot for dark chocolate flavor that doesn't get bitter.  True dark chocolate lovers will go for 80 to 85% cocoa in small quantities, but for most this takes an acquired taste.

Dark chocolate has been shown to be an appetite suppressant for many so if you eat only a few squares, enough to get that satisfying mmmm, chooocoolaaate feeling, you're less likely to overeat later in the day.

You may have heard of two processess for making chocolate; dutch and non-dutch.  The non-dutch is much higher in antioxidants, but also very difficult to find.  No worries though as the antioxidant content is so high in cocoa that there is still a very high dose in the more popular dutch processed dark chocolates.

If you can't cap it at a few squares, it will go straight to your butt, then your heart.

The real take home here is that there are plenty of other foods that are great tasting and high in antioxidants that don't carry the burden of pumping fat into your veins.

Blueberries, black and red grapes, strawberries, and pretty much any dark berries all taste great and are high in antioxidants.  What's the highest antioxidant food we know of?

Super exotic Acai berries?  Goji berries?  Nope.

Oregano.  One tablespoon of oregano has about the same antioxidant delivery as one red delicious apple or one serving of blueberries.

One tablespoon of oregano is about 17 calories.  Organo tastes good, but not dark chocolate good.

There's no denying the numbers though.. oregano is definitely the smart choice for high dose - low calorie antioxidant delivery.

Yes, antioxidants from dark chocolate are great, but if you boast to your friends that you're getting your antioxidants from dark chocolate, it isn't much to boast about because oregano is a better source, so is just about any other high antioxidant food.

Dark chocolate in moderation is the way to go

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