Archive for February 20th, 2008

Can I Eat Dark Chocolate Everyday?

February 20, 2008

Go to fullsize imageIt’s in the headlines and magazines…that dark chocolate is healthy and in fact protective to the heart.  But does this mean, any dark chocolate can have that effect? And if so, can we then eat dark chocolate everyday?

The Harvard Heart Letter commented on this specific topic recently to dispell myths that all dark chocolates are the same.

The main ingredient that has a positive effect on the heart is the flavanol compound.  This is present in abundance in certain foods not only cacao but also fruits like apples, vegetables like beans and also present in onions.  These flavanoids in cacao give the chocolate a bitter taste and unfortunately this is almost always removed during the processing of chocolate to give it a yummy taste!  Chocolates that also contain alkali during the processing removes most of the flavanoids. 

Unfortunately one can’t tell the content of the flavanoids based on the color of the chocolate.  So here are some tips to get the best dark chocolate from Dr Thomas Lee, the Editor of the Harvard Heart Letter:

  • Look for the least-processed chocolate you can find.
  • Skip those that have been treated with alkali.
  • Keep in mind that you don’t need much.
  • Studies showing the benefits of cocoa have used an ounce — sometimes less — of flavanol-rich chocolate. The tough part of this dietary “therapy” is stopping with a small piece. But stop you should. An ounce of dark chocolate delivers about 150 calories. Eat that much every day without cutting back elsewhere and the girth you gain would far outweigh any benefit from chocolate.

In short… you may eat chocolate everyday but make sure it’s only a bite size.  If you cant handle the satisfaction of that… then hold it for more on special occasions.  Remember… dont fool yourself into believing that you are eating dark chocolate to help your heart… there are other ways to do that. It is the calories that count and chocolates give you more than what you need in a day if you over indulge in it!

Gaining weight is not worth the benefit that you’ll get from eating chocolates if you can get the same amount of flavanoid from eating apples!  They may not taste the same but the health benefits maybe more with fruits!

Enjoy Chocolates Wisely!