Antioxidants in chocolate - now, isn't that good news for you chocolate
lovers. Does that mean you can eat just any old chocolate bar and think
you are doing something healthy for yourself? I wish!
Antioxidants in chocolate are from the cocoa beans. They are a rich source of natural antioxidants called flavonoids and phytochemicals called polyphenols.
Flavonoids have many antioxidant properties.
Would you believe that raw, organic cocoa powder is the best source for your antioxidants? It has a higher ORAC value than blueberries, goji berries and the acai berry - combined!
You may be surprised, as I was, that there are many health benefits to eating cocoa and dark chocolate. Here is the report of one study.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported on the effects of cocoa and dark chocolate on a study done on 23 healthy Americans. The published results were:
Cocoa powder and dark chocolate may favorably affect cardiovascular disease risk status by
1) modestly reducing LDL oxidation susceptibility,
2) increasing serum total antioxidant capacity and
3) increasing HDL-cholesterol concentrations, and
4) not adversely affecting prostaglandins
Antioxidants combat and neutralize free radicals which cause damage to our cells, and in particular the macula where lots of oxidation takes place.
"Almost every single one of the risk factors we have for macular degeneration can be linked to free radicals."
Dr. Lylas G. Mogk, M. D., Visual Rehabilitation and Research Center of Michigan.
The benefits of dark chocolate over milk chocolate, is that dark chocolate has higher amounts of antioxidants. Milk chocolate has the least amount of total antioxidant capacity.The richer in cocoa the better.
Select chocolates with at least 70% cocoa content such as Green & Black's Organic Chocolate Bar, Dark 70% Cocoa. I personally love the taste of dark chocolate and like the bars with an even higher content of dark cocoa. But for those of you who prefer milk chocolate to dark chocolate, you can start adjusting to dark chocolate by starting with chocolate bars that have a lower cacao powder content and gradually move to bars with more cacao.
You won't benefit from antioxidants in chocolate if you eat chocolate with milk. So don't eat your dark chocolate with a glass of cold milk - the milk interferes with absorption.
"Eating a little bit of chocolate or having a drink of hot cocoa as part of a regular diet is probably good for personal health, so long as people don't eat too much of it, and too much of the kind with lots of butter and sugar," said Diane Becker, the lead researcher of an 18 month study at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
I became interested in organic cacao powder after reading Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future.Cacao beans are listed as one of the top 10 superfoods by David Wolfe.
I was quite excited to learn about this as I am a big fan of chocolate. In case you didn't know all chocolate comes from the cacao bean or also known as the cocoa bean. This cocoa bean is actually the seed or nut inside the pod/fruit.
According to David Wolfe, "the raw cacao bean is one of nature's most fantastic superfoods due to its mineral content and wide array of unique properties."
"Cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world...
By weight cacao has more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai, pomegranates and goji berries combined."
However, the many benefits of this bean are destroyed by cooking, refining, and processing. To benefit from the antioxidants in chocolate look for raw organic cacao powder like this one from Amazon. It's the best price of just over $10 for 16 oz and free shipping if you are Amazon Prime:
The benefits of cocoa may surprise you as they did me. The cocoa bean is actually the seed or nut inside the pod/fruit.
According to David Wolfe, "the raw cacao bean is one of nature's most fantastic superfoods due to its mineral content and wide array of unique properties." However, the many benefits of this bean are destroyed by cooking, refining, and processing. First consider their antioxidant power.
"Cacao contains the highest concentration of antioxidants of any food in the world." David Wolfe
Other benefits of cacao or cocoa are that they are a rich source of vitamins and minerals such as:
Omega 6 Fatty Acids
Natural cocoa powders, such as Healthworks Raw Certified Organic Cacao Powder contain the highest amount of total antioxidant capacity. I put the cacao powder in smoothies using almond milk and antioxidant rich berries.
One recipe I like that combines the antioxidant benefits of organic cocao powder and organic goji berries is the Blissful Chocolate Smoothie recipe from David Wolfe's website. Here it is:
Makes enough to serve 4-6 superheroes or superheroines!
4 cups liquid (water, hot or cold tea, coconut water, or nut milk)
3 Tbsp cacao powder
1 Tbsp maca powder
2 Tbsp organic goji berries
1-2 Tbsp sweetener (we suggest agave, raw honey, or coconut palm sugar) I like organic raw blue agave nectar
1-3 cups organic berries (depending on how thick you want your smoothie) We use frozen blueberries and raspberries harvested from our back yard.
I started buying organic cacao powder and making my own healthy version of hot cocoa. Because dairy interferes with the absorption of cocoa I use Almond Breeze almond milk. Here's my recipe using coconut oil and chocolate:
1 Cup of Almond Breeze almond milk
warm it in a pan on the oven or microwave then add:
1-2 Tablespoons of organic raw cocoa powder
1 Teaspoon of organic cold pressed coconut oil
Dash of Stevia to taste
It really tastes great and I feel like I am doing something good for me as well. Go to Amazon now to get yours:Healthworks Raw Certified Organic Cacao Powder