You have probably heard chocolate listed as a superfood before due to its levels of antioxidants. Is it really as good as it seems? Let’s break it down:
What is chocolate made of?
- The cacao tree is where chocolate comes from. The beans are made into chocolate liquor which is then processed into cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
- Pure, unsweetened chocolate is a combination of cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
- Sweetened chocolate has sugar added to it in varying percentages.
- Milk chocolate has sugar and milk added to it.
- White chocolate is not chocolate at all – but rather cocoa butter with milk and sugar.
Why is chocolate considered healthy?
- The cocoa solids contain flavonoids which are a type of phytochemical.
- Flavonoids have been associated with reducing inflammation, blood clotting, and blood pressure as well as decreasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- Flavonoids act as an antioxidant which help combat free radical damage, which has been associated with detoxification of certain carcinogens.
Antioxidants are found in many other foods besides chocolate – fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, soy, coffee – and the list goes on.
In my opinion, you shouldn’t be reaching for chocolate to get your antioxidants. In addition to the antioxidants you are getting saturated fat and sugar.
Chocolate can be beneficial in small quantities if you choose high quality dark chocolate. But remember milk chocolate contains very small quantities of the antioxidants and white chocolate contains none at all! This also doesn’t give you permission to eat large quantities of things like chocolate muffins, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake, and chocolate ice cream. These products will have small quantities of antioxidants (if any at all) and have a lot of saturated fat, sugar and calories.
Some people have great restraint when it comes to portion control with chocolate, others have a hard time. If you find it hard to buy a large bar and savor it over several days, then I recommend buying individually wrapped pieces so you can control your portions!
1 ounce dark chocolate (70-85%): 168 calories, 12 grams fat (7 grams saturated fat), and 7 grams sugar.
1 ounce dark chocolate (60-69%): 162 calories, 11 grams fat (6 grams saturated fat), and 10 grams sugar.
1 ounce dark chocolate (45-59%): 152 claroies, 9 grams fat (5 grams saturated fat), 13 grams sugar.
What’s your favorite type of chocolate? Do you buy it pre-portioned or can you limit yourself around large quantities?
Personally, I like to keep the Ghirardelli Squares so I can limit myself to one square when I want a little chocolate fix.
Filed under: Nutrition News/Information | Tagged: chocolate, dark chocolate, flavonoids, health benefits of chocolate | 2 Comments »