Chocolate is made from cocoa beans that are naturally rich in flavonoid antioxidants. These have been shown in scientific studies to reduce ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, increase ‘good’ HDL cholesterol, and help our blood vessels be more flexible. They have also been shown to prevent our blood from becoming ‘sticky’ and forming clots, reduce inflammation, improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood pressure.
Chocolate comes in several forms. Cocoa powder has the most antioxidants, containing 10 per cent by weight of
flavonoids. Next comes dark chocolate, and the higher the cocoa content, the more antioxidants it contains. Milk
chocolate has half as much as dark chocolate, and white chocolate has no antioxidants.
Remember, chocolate is high in saturated fat and kilojoules, so go easy. Cocoa powder is a delicious way to enjoy that
great chocolate taste (as a drink or in baking) and contains much less fat than chocolate. Having chocolate with nuts is a good way to combine heart-friendly nutrients in an enjoyable way.
A good rule of thumb is ‘dark and rich’ is best. Dark chocolate is top of the heart-benefit hierarchy tree. High-cocoa content chocolate contains up to 70 per cent cocoa and the percentage is usually printed on the label.
What about chocolate bars?
Chocolate bars with added ingredients like caramel, nougat, marshmallow and biscuit/wafer are lower in chocolate flavonoids and higher in kilojoules.
Manufacturers are making them bigger and more widely available. Avoid grabbing one as a quick snack and instead,
enjoy a modest portion of rich, dark chocolate in a relaxed way. Many people say dark chocolate is more satisfying
than other chocolate because of its richness and intensity.
Dark Chocolate Benefits