All About the Cocoa Flavanols in Your Dark Chocolate Bar

You might not know it, but dark chocolate bars has a range of nutritional components.cacao_beans_cocoa_cocoa_bean Read about the health effects of this delectable treat, and the benefits of consuming the best dark chocolate bar.

Dark chocolate bar has many benefits

Chocolate might not be the first thing that comes to mind when we talk about plant-based food, it actually originates from a fruit seed. This seed naturally has a range of nutritional components, like fiber, iron, zinc and copper, and these get passed along to cocoa-based products such as chocolate. The raw cocoa seed is also naturally abundant in flavanols, which can make their way into chocolate for as long as they are carefully handled. These potent compoinds are found in a wide range of plant-based foods, including red wine, grapes, apples and tea. Recently, flavanols have been widely studied for their impact on health.

Dark Chocolate, Flavanols and Health

Growing scientific evidences from human studies show that the flavanols naturally present in cocoa might have important cardiovascular effects. One particular study comes from the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report from the United States Department of Agriculture and United States Department of Health and Human Services showed moderate evidence to support that consuming a moderate amount of cocoa or dark chocolate as a part of a balanced diet, is associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease.

Also, several intervention studies that have lasted from one day to 18 weeks have shown that eating chocolate and other cocoa products that contain flavanol can improve the function of the cardiovascular system, improve markers of inflammation, and make platelets less prone to form clots, among many others. In addition, research has shown that regularly consuming products that are rich in cocoa flavanold can lower blood pressure.

Since the science in this area is still growing and the vast majority of studies have been done using special cocoa powder-based products, it is not possible to make specific recommendations based on how much cocoa or chocolate to consume, and the right kind or type. These studies might not prove that chocolate is a ‘health food’ and do not give reasons to overeat it, but they have a tendency to lend support on the idea that when diet and calories are managed, small amounts of your favorite chocolate treats can be enjoyed as part of a heart-healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle.

Looking for Chocolates with Flavanols

It is a myth that darker chocolates always have the highest amount of flavanols. Dark chocolate might have more chocolate liquor compared to milk or white chocolate, but flavanol contents siginficantly vary depending on the journey of the bean through all stages of making chocolate. Although flavanols are abudant in new, fresh cocoa seed, the way the seed is handed from tree to chocolate matters a great deal. Through conventional handling and common manufacturing processes like fermentation, drying, alkalization and roasting, the natural flavanol components are destroyed readily.

It is because of these variables that the cacao percentage marked on the dark chocolate bar nutritional information is not a reliable guide to the amount of flavanol is contains. Although darker might be better for a deep chocolate taste, it does not guarantee a higher flavanol content. Of course, aside from choosing the best dark chocolate bar, you should also make sure that you eat it moderately. Because, just like everything, too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

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