Chocolate Is Good for You!

Great news on the chocolate front! Chocolate is good for you!

Katherine Tallmadge, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, says, in the February 9, 2005, WASHINGTON POST, that cacao, or cocoa beans, contain flavanols, naturally occurring plant compounds also found in tea, red wine, and apples. Their properties have been studied as heart disease inhibitors.

Carl L. Keen, chair of the department of nutrition at University of California, Davis, states in the same article that the flavanols in cocoa help maintain a healthy vascular system. They reduce blood clotting (through an aspirin like effect), reduce oxidative damage, and improve blood flow.

Unfortunately the flavanols in chocolate are bitter and are mostly removed from processed chocolate. The level decreases with each step, from the bean to the cocoa powder, and ultimately to a finished product.

But big manufacturers like Nestle and Mars Inc.(producers of M&Ms) are working on chocolate items that are — what else? — good for you!

While we’re waiting for more high-flavanol products, Ms. Tallmadge recommends unsweetened cocoa powder, but not the alkalized Dutch processed kind, which has had its flavanols reduced.

Next in desirability is semisweet or bittersweet chocolate with a high cocoa percentage. Some dark chocolates contain as much as 70% cocoa or as little as 35%. The percent of cocoa in milk chocolate can be even lower, and Ms. Tallmadge does not recommend it. She says, “I recommend cocoa or an ounce per day of dark chocolate, which may be about 110 to 150 calories, depending on the chocolate. Any more than that and you’re probably going to take in too many calories for weight control.”

A highly qualified nutrition professional is RECOMMENDING that you eat chocolate! Maybe not large quantities of chocolate, but chocolate! Enjoy!