I’m pretty sure every woman alive would love to hear from their doctor ‘Yes, the cure for you is to eat more chocolate’. While I would never say that eating more chocolate is good for you, research has shown some benefits. And since Valentines is just around the corner as are boxes and bags of chocolaty goodness, I thought I would share a few things about chocolate.
Rule #1 about chocolate: Darker is Better. Chocolate has gotten a lot of media coverage in recent years because it’s believed that it may help protect your cardiovascular system. The reasoning being that the cocoa bean is rich in a class of plant nutrients called flavonoids.
Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research shows that flavanols have other potential influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that dark chocolate helps to lower blood pressure. There are other studies similar to this showing this effect.
Warning: Not all forms of chocolate contain high levels of flavanols.
Cocoa in its natural form has a very strong, pungent taste, which comes from the flavanols. When cocoa is processed into different chocolate products, there are several steps that reduce this taste. The more chocolate is processed, the more flavanols are lost.
Most commercial chocolates are highly processed. Typically it is believed that dark chocolate contains the highest levels flavanols, however, recent research indicates that depending on how the dark chocolate was processed, this may not be true. The good news is that most major chocolate manufacturers are looking for ways to keep the flavanols in their processed chocolates.
But for now, your best choices are likely dark chocolate over milk chocolate and cocoa powder that has not undergone Dutch processing (cocoa that is treated with an alkali to neutralize its natural acidity).
Recently, a unique chocolate company, Vibrant Chocolate sent me a sample of their chocolates to try. The first thing I noticed when I opened the box is that these chocolates are beautiful!
Their European-style truffles are enriched with vitamins and nutrients. The founder Mike Arcuri, believes that delicious chocolate can be fortified with the nutrients people need but find difficult or unpleasant to take every day.
Some of my favorites were the Caramel Snap Attack. This chocolate has 500mg of Omega-3 and flax in it! The Long Life Cocktail Bar was very different that any other chocolate I have tried. It is a dark chocolate bar with chopped cranberries, sea salt, cocoa nibs and flax seeds. It contains 1000mg of Omega-3 and has 64% pure cocoa. I love Hazelnuts and so of course I loved their Hazelnut Crunch. This chocolate is fortified with Calcium and Vitamin D3.
I felt good knowing that I was getting those extra nutrients as I was savoring these delicious chocolates. If you are planning on getting chocolates for someone for Valentines you should definitely checkout Vibrant Chocolate.
All pictures courtesy of Vibrant Chocolate.