- A Health Food
for Heart and Mind
Healthy Chocolate? Yes! A Health Food for Heart and Mind.
Cocoa is the Most Powerful Antioxidant Food!
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How Healthy Is Dark Chocolate? | Health Benefits | Where To Buy The Healthiest Chocolate |
WARNING: Dark Chocolate Is Dangerous or Deadly To Dogs!
Cocoa - The Super Healthy Fruit
You may be surprised to learn that cocoa is actually a FRUIT - and even more surprised to learn that it is actually one of the most healthy fruits commonly eaten by man!
Recent research studies have shown a link between cocoa and cardiovascular health, with reduced risk of blood clots, strokes, and heart attacks.
Cornell University food scientists discovered that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea.
Raw cocoa has the highest antioxidant value of all the natural foods in the world!
The ORAC score per 100 grams of unprocessed raw cacao is 28,000, compared to 18,500 for Acai Berries, 1,540 for Strawberries, and only 1,260 for raw Spinach. The ORAC score for a typical manufactured Dark Chocolate is an impressive 13,120 - although one unique, organic, and non-roasted brand of Dark Chocolate has a much higher ORAC score. But for Milk Chocolate the ORAC score is much lower at 6,740.
Cocoa also appears to have anti-aging and anti-inflammatory properties. And cocoa is a good source of the minerals magnesium, sulphur, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, and manganese; plus some of the B Vitamins.
When heart problems occur, magnesium is the most likely mineral to be missing in the person's diet.
Cocoa has a high content of the "beauty" mineral, sulfur. Sulfur helps build strong nails and hair, promotes healthy and beautiful skin, helps detoxify the liver, and supports healthy functioning of the pancreas.
Fresh cocoa beans are super-rich in the type of bioflavonoid called flavanols which are strong antioxidants that help maintain healthy blood flow and blood pressure. The heart-healthy flavanols in cocoa, especially the epicatechins, prevent fatty substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and then clogging the arteries.
Flavanols help make blood platelets less likely to stick together and cause blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes - without the negative side effects associated with the use of aspirin (ASA) and other pharmaceutical blood-thinners.
Cocoa beans contain 10,000 milligrams (10 grams) of flavanol antioxidants per 100 grams - or an amazing 10% antioxidant concentration level! When it comes to supplying your body with effective antioxidants, no other natural food can even come close. No exotic super-fruit like Acai berries, no high-antioxidant fruits like prunes or blueberries, and no vegetables. The antioxidants in cocoa are easily absorbed by the human body, and are more stable and long-lasting than those in any other foods.
Cocoa also contains the amino acid Tryptophan which makes the neurotransmitter known as serotonin, which promotes positive feelings and helps keep us from feeling depressed. Cocoa contains the neurotransmitters dopamine, and phenylethylamine (PEA), and contains anandamide and MAO Inhibitors - which make this heart-healthy food a healthy food for the brain too.
Phenylethylamine (PEA) helps promote mental alertness and the ability to concentrate. The PEA in healthy chocolate can be of help to students taking tests, and to senior citizens who want to retain the mental capacity of a younger person and postpone the onset of dementia.
Studies have indicated that consuming healthy dark chocolate produced an increased sensitivity to insulin (which indicates a protective effect against diabetes).
Cocoa nibs are dried cocoa beans, and these are available in health food stores as a super-healthy snack food. They have a strong chocolate taste; but it's a bitter taste, since they have not been sweetened with sugar. If you can get used to the bitter taste, cocao nibs make one of the healthiest snack foods you can find, since they offer ALL the health benefits of cocoa listed above! Also, cocoa reduces your appetite and helps you lose weight!
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While you may have believed that cocoa and chocolate were "bad for you", the truth is that THE RIGHT KIND OF CHOCOLATE provides many health benefits that make it not only "good for you" but better for your body than most of the fruits and vegetables your mother made you eat when you were a child.
Eating a healthy dark chocolate provides a sweet, sensual, sin-free pleasure, as well as some significant health benefits. A heart-felt gift of healthy dark chocolate to a loved one offers a heart-warming, delightfully delicious treat, as well as a super heart-healthy food that promotes a longer and healthier life.
If the pharmaceutical industry managed to produce a patented product that offered all the health benefits of cocoa, they would likely proclaim it a "miracle drug"! But since cocoa is widely available, is relatively inexpensive, and does not require you to pay for a doctor's prescription nor pay fees to a dispensing pharmacy, you are not likely to hear many members of the medical establishment recommending chocolate for its many health benefits.
You may also be surprised to learn that dark chocolate can help you lose weight! Because it has appetite-suppressant properties, cocoa is often added to weight loss products to help control hunger.
While you may have been told that chocolate is "fattening", the truth is that the fats found in cocoa butter are actually healthy fats! Cacao contains oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat which is also found in olive oil and is believed to raise the level of the "good cholesterol" known as HDL cholesterol (the acronym HDL stands for "High Density Lipid").
Healthy chocolate can be of great benefit to tobacco smokers - but not just because they need lots of the antioxidants which neutralize the free radicals generated by the toxic compounds in tobacco smoke. A recent study in Switzerland indicated that dark chocolate may help prevent hardening of the arteries.
A 2006 clinical study by Swiss researchers found that within minutes of consuming dark chocolate, their test group of 20 smokers experienced a significant improvement in the function of the endothelial cells which line the artery walls. Smoking tobacco has long been linked to hardening of the arteries and an increase in the production of clot-forming platelets in the blood.
Raw cocoa beans contain over 300 chemically identifiable compounds. This makes cocoa one of the most complex food substances on Earth!
Click here to learn more about the many Health Benefits of healthy dark chocolate.
How Chocolate Is Made
Chocolate really does grow on trees! Cocoa beans come from the fruit of the cacao tree which grows in tropical rainforests in South America, Africa, and Malaysia. The official scientific name of the cocoa tree is Theobroma Cacao. "Theobroma" is Latin for "food of the gods". Cacao is pronounced "ka-COW". The words "cacao" and the more commonly used term "cocoa" both refer to the cacao bean, the seed of the Theobroma Cacao fruit.
The main producers and exporters of cacao beans are the West African countries of Cote d'Ivoire or "Ivory Coast" (40%); and Ghana, which until 1957 was the British colony known as the "Gold Coast" (15%). Indonesia also produces about 15%. Brazil, Nigeria, and Cameroon also grow cacao in lesser quantities.
Strictly speaking, cocoa or cacao is a nut, the seed of a fruit, but is most commonly called cocoa beans, cocoa seeds, cocoa nuts, chocolate seeds, or chocolate beans. Commercial cocoa growers and processors refer to the dried cocoa beans as cocoa nibs. The term cacao often refers to the beans before they are fermented and dried.
All of these terms refer to the dried fruit or nuts of the cacao tree, and here we will use the most popular term cocoa beans to refer to the fermented and dried bean that is used to make cocoa powder and dark chocolate.
The cacao pods take five to six months to ripen. In the typical cacao plantation, the growers harvest the pods from the cacao tree at the time of perfect ripeness, then remove the cacao beans from the pods (about 45 beans per pod) by cutting the pods open with a machete knife.
The beans are then covered with banana leaves and left for about five days to ferment, which reduces the bitterness and develops an enhanced chocolate flavor. When they have reached the proper level of fermentation, the beans are then left to dry in the sun, where the brown color and the chocolate flavor intensifies. Then the now-finished cocoa beans are shipped to the cocoa buyers and processors.
Cocoa butter is a fatty substance that comes from the fruit of the cacao tree, though some is also found inside the cocoa bean and is usually removed by pressing the beans to ensure the best cocoa flavor. Cocoa butter is often used in making chocolate, but the dark brown chocolate color and the chocolate flavor and the greatest health benefits come from the cocoa bean, not from the light-colored cocoa butter.
ABC News reported in 2005 that the average American consumes 11.5 pounds of chocolate each year. That would likely be chocolate bars and various types of chocolate candy, which are mostly sugar and fat. Chocolate consumption represents one percent of the American diet, yet most Americans have never tasted "real" chocolate - natural cocoa or the cacao bean in its raw form.
You could sprinkle crushed cocoa beans or cocoa nibs onto whipped cream, ice cream, puddings, or other desserts for a natural chocolate flavor from these original "chocolate chips". The crushed raw cocoa beans or nibs look a lot like coarse-ground coffee beans and taste like unsweetened dark chocolate - because all real chocolate is made from cocoa/cacao beans.
From Cocoa Bean to Cocoa Liquor to Baking Chocolate
Chocolate is manufactured from cocoa mass, the base product produced by processing the cocoa/cacao beans or nibs by fermenting and then roasting them to produce a liquid called chocolate liquor, which is very "thick" or viscous. You might expect the cocoa mass to be solid or a kind of powder, but it is a thick liquid or paste because cacao beans are nuts, and all nuts contain fat - in this case the fat known as cocoa butter, which has a very high viscosity at room temperature, like soft butter made from dairy cream.
The chocolate liquor can be molded and hardened into the bitter chocolate known as unsweetened baking chocolate. Most people would not like to eat this chocolate because it is quite bitter in taste. Those who acquire a taste for it are able to eat this kind of sugar-free dark chocolate which is more healthy than other forms of chocolate.
From Cocoa Liquor to Cocoa Cake to Cocoa Powder
The chocolate liquor can be machine pressed under great pressure to squeeze out most of the the fats known as cocoa butter and leave a flattened dry material called cocoa cake, also known as "cocoa solids". This cocoa cake can then be broken up or finely ground to produce a natural and unsweetened cocoa powder, which is used by chocolate manufacturers.
At their local grocery store, consumers can also buy a cocoa powder known as Hershey's or Fry's, or other cocoa powders from other makers. Here is an online source of Organic Cocoa Powder
A much healthier organic cocoa powder made from raw cacao beans which have not been fermented, roasted, or processed with high heat can be ordered online in a 16 oz. package. This raw cacao provides a much higher level (over 3 times higher) of antioxidant flavanols (i.e. has a much higher ORAC score = 95,500 per 100 grams) than other cocoa powders made from cacao beans which have been fermented and roasted.
This antioxidant-rich cocoa powder can be used to make a healthy hot chocolate and other hot or cold chocolate drinks, mixed with agave nectar to make a healthy chocolate syrup, or used with organic coconut flour and virgin coconut oil to bake healthy brownies and cookies and cakes. Click here to learn about raw organic cocoa powder.
From Cocoa Powder to Dark Chocolate
To make a solid dark chocolate from the cocoa powder, a chocolate manufacturer will add some cocoa butter (the natural fat from the cocoa fruit) and some kind of sugar, usually refined white cane sugar. The US FDA did not authorize the use of an extract of the natural low-calorie sweetener Stevia (known as Rebaudioside A) as a food ingredient until 2011. At least one "sugar-free" healthy chocolate using Stevia extract is now available in dark chocolate and milk chocolate products. While removing sugar lowers the calories per gram for "sugar free" chocolates, healthy chocolate is still not "fat free" because it contains cocoa butter and/or other fats.
A dark chocolate can be "bittersweet" or "semisweet" or "sweetened", depending on how much sugar is added to the cocoa powder and cocao butter.
Since the viscous cocoa butter melts to a liquid at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it provides that "melt in the mouth" creamy texture. After Christopher Columbus introduced chocolate (dried cacao beans) from the newly-discovered Americas to Queen Isabella of Spain, Europeans soon started adding sugar cane (also from the Americas) to the chocolate drink to sweeten the taste. They also experimented with adding flavorful New World spices like vanilla and cinnamon.
Good Chocolate, Bad Chocolate
Raw and unprocessed cocoa beans or cocoa powder made from raw cocoa beans which have NOT been treated with alkalis (in the Dutch chocolate process) are a true "healthy chocolate". These forms of chocolate will contain the most flavanols and are the healthiest chocolate you can get.
The Xoçai X Power Squares are a dark chocolate made from cacao beans that are blanched, unfermented, sun-dried, non-roasted and cold-pressed, which means this cacao contains eight times the levels of the antioxidant epicatechins and catechins, and four times the levels of procyandins than cacao produced with standard processing.
The Xoçai X Power Squares are loaded with antioxidants and have an unparalleled ORAC Value of 3,582 per 6 gram Square. They have an astounding 1,008 mg. of Total Flavonids per 18 gram serving (3 squares) - and the actual ORAC Value per serving is clearly listed on the front of the wrapper. Almost all other chocolate manufacturers do NOT indicate the actual ORAC Value of their products on the label, probably because it is too low to boast about.
Most of the scientific research studies which proclaim the many benefits of healthy chocolate were based on the study of raw cocoa which was not subjected to high heat or chemicals, or on dark chocolate which has no milk or dairy products added. They were NOT reporting health benefits being found in milk chocolate bars, chocolate candies, chocolate syrup, or white chocolate.
So while it is true that raw and unprocessed organic cocoa and "dark chocolate" made from raw and unprocessed organic cocoa really are a "healthy chocolate", this is NOT true for just any kind of chocolate. The term "healthy chocolate" certainly does NOT apply to chocolate candies made from cocoa beans which have been subjected to high heat by roasting, treated with alkalis or other chemicals, and adulterated with various additives like hydrogenated oils, animal fats like lard, corn syrup, refined sugar, dairy products, and artificial preservatives.
Chocolate CANDY is still a sugar-filled, fat-filled junk food - NOT a health food!
If you look at the ingredient label on many chocolate candy products, you will likely see sugar listed as the first ingredient, which means the product contains more sugar than anything else - including the cocoa! It might be more truthful to call such unhealthy concoctions "chocolate flavored sugar".
It is well known that refined sugar is a cause or a contributing or aggravating factor with respect to many medical conditions, including: heart disease, osteoporosis, obesity, insulin and blood sugar disorders like diabetes, mood disorders, immune system disorders, leukemia, inflammatory conditions, dental cavities, yeast infections, and depletion of essential nutrients. Sugar-laden chocolate candies and syrups are more of a health risk than a health food.
White Chocolate - The Little White Lie
While raw cocoa and cocoa powder and certain kinds of dark chocolate can legitimately claim to be "healthy foods", this is definitely NOT true for the manufactured candy which is called "white chocolate". A recent study showed ZERO health benefits from consuming white chocolate - while consuming dark chocolate showed some important measurable health benefits related to lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, and increasing insulin sensitivity.
A study reported in the Journal of Hypertension in August, 2005 found that test subjects with high blood pressure who were given 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate daily for 15 days received these measurable health benefits:
(1) a drop in LDL cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol);
(2) a drop in blood pressure, both systolic and diastolic, which compared to the results of healthy changes in diet usually recommended for patients with hypertension;
(3) an increased sensitivity to insulin (which indicates a protective effect against diabetes).
In the same study, test subjects with hypertension who were given 3.5 ounces of white chocolate for 15 days received NONE of the above health benefits.
[Journal of Hypertension, 2005, August; 23(8):1453-1459.]
As much as we would all love to think of our favorite chocolate candy or chocolate syrup or hot cocoa drink as a "healthy chocolate" to justify the pleasure of our self-indulgence in this delightful delicacy and reduce our "guilty" feelings, we must face the truth that only raw cocoa and certain kinds of dark chocolate provide the many health benefits which modern research studies have attributed to the theobroma cacao bean.
The Truth About Dark Chocolate, Dutch Chocolate, Milk Chocolate, and White Chocolate
While there are many reported health benefits available from consuming the right kinds of cocoa and dark chocolate, please do not take this as a licence to over-indulge! Any good thing can produce negative effects if taken to extremes. So the ancient adage "moderation in all things" applies to consumption of all kinds of chocolate, including even the types of "healthy chocolate".
Cocoa contains fairly high levels of the mineral copper, and TOO MUCH copper can inhibit certain chemical processes in the body and lead to several kinds of health problems. As with red wine, which can be healthy in moderate use, consume cocao and dark chocolate in moderation as a healthy treat, but do not think of it as a regular "health food".
Dark chocolate contains the three elements of cocao liquor or cocoa mass (cocoa cake), cocoa butter, and sugar. Cocoa butter is a fat that is found naturally in cocoa beans. The cocoa butter consists of 34% stearic acid, 34% oleic acid, 25% palmitic acid, and 7% other fatty acids.
A bittersweet dark chocolate bar contains about 70% chocolate liquor; while a semisweet dark chocolate contains about 60%. When you buy a healthy dark chocolate bar labelled "85% Cocao" or "90% Cocoa" it is going to taste less sweet and even more bitter than the "Bittersweet" or "Semisweet" dark chocolate. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the lower will be the percentage of sugar in the product.
Note that this chocolate or cocoa "liquor" does NOT refer to alcohol, but is a term used by cocoa processors to describe the viscous liquid made from roasted cacao beans.
Next to raw and unprocessed organic cocoa, organic dark chocolate is the healthiest form of chocolate - especially when it contains more of the nutritious cocoa mass and less of the fattening cocoa butter and sugar. The dark chocolate is "healthier" when it is unsweetened or bittersweet dark chocolate. Any sweetened dark chocolate is a little less "healthy" when it is sweetened with refined white sugar (sucrose) instead of raw cane sugar or dehydrated cane juice.
Cocoa powder usually has a slightly bitter and acidic taste. In the 19th century Dutch chocolate makers learned that they could treat the cocoa powder with alkaline salts to reduce the bitter taste - a process now known as the "Dutching process".
Dutch cocoa provides less antioxidants than natural cocoa because the alkali process destroys some of the flavanols (the powerful antioxidants found in cocoa). You can tell a cocoa or chocolate is Dutch Chocolate when the label indicates "Dutch process" or "alkali added" or "European style". If you are looking for a healthy chocolate, this one is lower down on the list.
Milk chocolate contains the same ingredients of cocoa mass, cocoa butter and sugar as dark chocolate, but to these three are added milk solids and milk fats. Milk chocolate will typically contain about 20% milk fat - which does not make milk chocolate a "healthy" chocolate choice.
Aside from adding extra fat, dairy products also inhibit the body's absorption of the powerful antioxidants naturally found in raw cocoa and dark chocolate - which reduces the ORAC value of milk chocolate to about half the ORAC value of dark chocolate or pure cocoa.
Modern milk chocolate bars and candies are usually made from cocoa powder (powdered cocoa mass with some cocoa butter extracted) mixed with some kind of refined sugar, some butter or lard or hydrogenated vegetable oils, some milk products, and various other ingredients. They do not qualify as a "healthy chocolate".
White chocolate is similar to milk chocolate, but without the cocoa base. Without any real cocoa bean content, "white chocolate" is not really a chocolate at all. Since it does NOT contain real cocoa beans and the many healthy nutrients which are naturally present in the cocoa beans, and since it has a high content of fats from both cocoa butter and milk fat, white chocolate is by far the LEAST healthy choice among the three common types of manufactured chocolate.
White chocolate should be considered a high-sugar and high-fat candy - not a "healthy chocolate". And it does not really deserve the name of "chocolate" at all. It doesn't even taste like cocoa or chocolate! "Cocoa butter candy" would be a more accurate name than "white chocolate". Few of the many health benefits from the nutrients in raw cocoa beans or healthy dark chocolate will be gained from eating white chocolate candy which contains no real cocoa beans.
Healthy Organic Chocolate
While you may have heard that chocolate is "bad for you", it is not the natural raw cocoa that is unhealthy, but the other ingredients in the kinds of manufactured chocolate made from refined sugar combined with various kinds of cheap animal fats like lard, or cheap and unhealthy hydrogenated vegetable oils.
When healthy and high-quality natural ingredients are used, it is possible to make a truly "healthy chocolate" from organically-grown, unprocessed, unroasted, raw cocoa/cacao beans that have no pesticide residue and little loss of their natural nutrients.
Next to organic raw cocoa/cacao beans or cocoa powder, unsweetened and dairy-free dark chocolate is the healthiest chocolate; while the LEAST healthy chocolate is milk chocolate which includes dairy products and milk fats, refined sugar, and possibly hydrogenated oils or lard.
Remember, so-called "white chocolate" is not really a "chocolate" - and certainly not a "healthy chocolate". It is "white" because it does NOT contain any of the dark brown cocoa powder found in dark chocolate and milk chocolate, and provides none of the healthy flavanols. It is not made from the cocoa bean or nib, but from the fatty cocoa butter extracted from the "fruit" part of the cacao plant.
Here is another important fact to remember when choosing a "healthy chocolate"...
Studies indicate that dairy products block the absorption of the many antioxidants found naturally in raw cocoa powder and dark chocolate! Thus milk chocolate and most chocolate candies are not the best choices when you want to eat a truly "healthy chocolate" that supplies a naturally high concentration of antioxidants.
Drinking a chocolate beverage or "hot chocolate" which contains added milk solids, whole milk, or cream is not as "healthy" as a beverage made from pure cocoa powder without any kind of dairy product or added cream. If you like a hot chocolate with milk or cream, substitute rice milk or almond milk or coconut milk if you want to ensure you are getting the most healthy antioxidants into your body.
How Healthy Is Dark Chocolate? What Are the Health Benefits?"The beverage of the gods was Ambrosia; that of man is chocolate. Both increase the length of life in a prodigious manner."
- Louis Lewin, M.D., in Phantastica
Organic Chemical Compounds in Cacao Beans and Organic Dark Chocolate
It is important to understand that most of the scientific research on the cacao bean refers to organic cacao in its raw, unprocessed, and unadulterated form. Note that when the cacao beans are processed by roasting or heating, there will be a loss of some of the nutrient value, and treating the cocao with alkaline salts in the Dutch process will reduce the concentration of flavanols and reduce its high antioxidant value. So the levels of active nutrients and the health benefits discussed below may be not be fully applicable to all of the many kinds of commercially processed dark chocolate products marketed today.
So don't expect that eating ANY type of chocolate bar or chocolate candy is going to be good for your health. You need to know WHICH KINDS of chocolate actually provide the health benefits - and that will usually be the kinds of COCOA POWDER and DARK CHOCOLATE which are closer to the raw cocoa bean, undergo the least amount of processing, and have the least unhealthy additives like saturated fats and refined sugar.
In general, the healthiest of the healthy chocolates (in order) are:
- raw, organic, unprocessed cacao beans (called "nibs") or cocoa mass;
- organic and unroasted cocoa powder not treated with alkalis;
- organic dark chocolate with the highest percentage of cocoa liquor or cocoa powder and the lowest percentage of refined sugar (bitter or semi-sweet dark chocolate).
Organically-grown cacao beans will not contain pesticide residues. Non-organic cacao may have some pesticide residues, but other than that, the same order as above will apply to non-organic cacao, cocao powder, and dark chocolate.
"Most chocolate, in fact, isn't flavanol-rich," says Norm Hollenberg, a radiology professor and flavanol expert at Harvard Medical School. "But all chocolate is rich in fat and calories." Hollenberg studied the Kuna Indians of Central America, island dwellers near Panama who grow their own flavanol-rich cacao beans.
The Kuna people drink a lot of cocoa, and they don't have high blood pressure or diabetes ...except for those who move to the mainland and start drinking flavanol-poor commercial cocoa. Hollenberg also fed cocoa with flavanols or cocoa without flavanols to a split study group in the United States, and discovered that flavanols in cocoa seemed to improve blood flow throughout the body.
Even when a chocolate product is made from organic cacao beans or nibs, this does not necessarily mean the finished product will have the same health benefits as the raw cocoa, if the way it is processed by the manufacturer has reduced the nutrient value of the cocoa beans, or if the addition of milk products limits the ability of the body to absorb all the natural antioxidants.
Also note that the CAFFEINE in the cacao fruit is found mainly in the shell or membrane which encloses the cacao beans. Most suppliers of cheaper cocoa powder grind up this outer membrane along with the beans, which helps to increase the yield and lower their cost of producing cocoa mass. But when the membrane is removed before shipping the raw cacao beans or grinding them into cocoa powder, the chocolate made from those more expensive beans will be of higher quality and essentially free of caffeine.
A List of Healthy Substances Found in Raw Chocolate (Theobroma Cacao)
Many of the natural chemical compounds in raw cocoa or cacao beans and in organic dark chocolate have been discussed in scientific literature as being pharmacologically significant to health. Here is a partial list of these active substances in natural organic chocolate (and more are discussed below).
- Anandamide (a neurotransmitter known as "the bliss chemical")
- Arginine (nature's aphrodisiac)
- Dopamine (a neurotransmitter)
- Epicatechins (antioxidants)
- Magnesium (for healthy heart function)
- Serotonin (anti-stress neurotransmitter)
- Tryptophan (anti-depressant amino acid)
- Phenylethylamine (PEA) (controls the ability to focus attention and stay alert)
- Polyphenols (antioxidants)
Magnesium - the Mineral Your Heart Needs
Is dark chocolate good for your heart? Research by Dr. Bernard Jensen indicates that the heart muscle requires these two minerals more than any other minerals: Magnesium and Potassium. In the heart muscle Magnesium is concentrated eighteen times greater than in the bloodstream. Magnesium helps regulate blood pressure and the heartbeat.
The overall strength and vigor of the heart muscle and its ability to pump effectively is enhanced by the presence of Magnesium, and this important mineral also decreases blood coagulation and thus can lower blood pressure.
Magnesium also balances brain chemistry, and helps build strong bones.
When heart problems occur, Magnesium is the most likely mineral to be missing in the person's diet.
Eighty percent of Americans are deficient in Magnesium. This deficiency is linked to hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, and PMT.
Cocoa beans and organic dark chocolate are the #1 best food sources of this heart-supporting mineral, Magnesium. Can you see how a guilt-free daily dose of Magnesium-rich healthy chocolate could actually help lower your risk of heart disease? If you are one of the millions of people who are chronically deficient in magnesium, making healthy chocolate part of your regular diet could be your best magnesium supplement!
Anti-Depressant Properties of Cocoa and Healthy Dark Chocolate
Cocoa is a potent source of serotonin, dopamine, and phenylethylamine. These are three well-studied neurotransmitters which help alleviate depression and are associated with feelings of well-being.
Cocoa contains monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAO Inhibitors) which help improve our mood because they allow serotonin and dopamine to remain in the bloodstream longer without being broken down.
Cocoa also contains anandamide which stimulates blissful feelings. Cocoa also contains B vitamins, which are associated with brain health.
Vascular Health Promoting Properties of Cocoa and Healthy Dark Chocolate
Nitric Oxide (NO)
One research study discovered that a substance in cocoa helps the body process nitric oxide (a chemical compound designated as NO, where N = 1 Nitrogen atom, and O = 1 Oxygen atom). Nitric oxide or NO is a critical component in healthy blood flow and blood pressure control.
Vascular diseases, including Erectile Dysfunction (ED) which is common in men over age 40, are connected to the inability of an artery to make the simple but fundamental chemical called nitric oxide (NO). It appears that flavanols help reverse that problem. Thus eating healthy chocolate might help men over 40 to enjoy a more active sex life without having to rely on expensive drugs like Viagra™ or Celebrex™ or those many herbal concoctions which are touted in millions of unwanted emails.
Another research study showed that a type of bioflavonoid called flavanols in cocoa prevent fatty substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and then clogging the arteries. Flavanols also make blood platelets less likely to stick together and cause blood clots.
Researchers are excited by the potential of flavanols to ward off vascular disease, which can cause hypertension (high blood pressure), heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and even dementia.
Antioxidant Properties of Cocoa and Healthy Dark Chocolate
Scientists have known for years that cocoa - or cacao - contains significant antioxidants, but no one knew just how rich they were in comparison to those found in two other healthy foods - red wine and green tea.
According to research cited in The New York Times, fresh cocoa beans are super-rich in the type of flavonoid called flavanols (not flavOnols) which are very strong antioxidants. Cocoa/cacao beans contain 10,000 milligrams (10 grams) of flavanol antioxidants per 100 grams - or an amazing 10% antioxidant concentration level!
Recent research has demonstrated that the antioxidants found in cacao beans are highly stable and easily available to the human metabolism. Of all known foods, cacao is also the ONLY food which does NOT lose its Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity (ORAC) over significant periods of time. This makes cocoa both the most POTENT source of antioxidants and a source of the most USABLE antioxidants found in any natural food.
Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals and keep them from damaging the DNA and mitochondria of the body's cells, which is a major cause of many degenerative diseases, cancer tumors, heart disease, and premature aging. Cells with damaged DNA cannot reproduce healthy new cells, but will reproduce damaged or malignant cells.
Cornell University food scientists discovered that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea.
Their findings were published in an article entitled "Cocoa Has More Phenolic Phytochemicals and a Higher Antioxidant Capacity than Teas and Red Wine", published in the American Chemical Society's Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry, a peer-reviewed publication.
The Cornell researchers, led by Chang Y. Lee, chairman of the Department of Food Science and Technology at Cornell University's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, NY, state the reason that cocoa leads the other drinks is its high content of antioxidant compounds called phenolic phytochemicals, or flavonoids.
A class of flavonoids known as flavanols or flavan-3-ols includes: catechin, epicatechin, and epigallocatechin. All three are found naturally in the cocoa bean. (Note that flavanols are NOT the same as another very similar-sounding class of flavonoids known as flavonols, which includes: myricetin, quercetin and kaempferol.)
The Cornell researchers discovered 611 milligrams of the phenolic compound gallic acid equivalents (GAE) and 564 milligrams of the flavonoid epicatechin equivalents (ECE) in a single serving of cocoa. Examining a glass of red wine, the researchers found 340 milligrams of GAE and 163 milligrams of ECE. In a cup of green tea, they found 165 milligrams of GAE and 47 milligrams of ECE.
By comparison, 1.5 ounces of healthy dark chocolate delivers as many antioxidants as five ounces of red wine.
That makes cocoa one of the richest sources of antioxidants in any food!
Compare the raw cocoa bean's 10,000 milligrams of flavanols per 100 grams to other forms of commercial chocolate...
Processed cocoa powder (defatted and roasted cocoa beans treated with potassium carbonate) and chocolate candy range in flavanol content from the more common concentration of 500 milligrams of flavanols per 100 grams of normal chocolate bars, to a concentration of 5,000 milligrams (5 grams) of flavanols per 100 grams of Cocoapro cocoa powder from the Mars Corporation.
Neither comes close to the high concentration of flavanol antioxidants in raw cocoa/cacao beans - 10 grams of flavanols per 100 grams.
ORAC Score - A Measure of Antioxidant Quality
The current standard for testing and measuring the antioxidant properties of various foods is called the ORAC Score. ORAC is an abbreviation for "Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity" - which is a measure of the amount of free radicals that can be neutralized by a certain mass of a food substance (usually cited as "per gram" or "per 100 grams" of the food substance).
The higher the ORAC score, the higher the concentration of antioxidants present in the food. (Source: US Department of Agriculture / Journal of the American Chemical Society.)
Free radicals are molecules that are missing one or more electrons and are therefore chemically imbalanced with a positive electrical charge. They are created in several kinds of chemical reactions which take place in our bodies, such as when we burn energy by working our muscles. To balance their charge, these radical molecules will seek to attract or "steal" electrons from other molecules - including the molecules which make up the DNA in your body's cells which is the blueprint for producing new cells, and the mitochondria in your cells which create the energy to sustain the cells.
Cells with damaged mitochondria are weak and have lower energy and less resistance to disease. When the DNA of a cell is damaged by the action of free radicals, the result is the creation of imperfect new cells - or even malignant new cells which form tumors and cancers.
Free radicals are the cause of most degenerative diseases, premature aging, and the creation of cancer cells.
Antioxidants are molecules which have one or more extra electrons and are chemically imbalanced with a negative electrical charge, so they can attract and "donate" an electron to a positively-charged free radical molecule, which balances its electrical charge and thus neutralizes it. So that "thieving" radical molecule which is now electrically balanced no longer needs to "steal" electrons from the molecules which form our body's cells.
Thus the more antioxidant molecules we have in our body, the more free radicals are neutralized, and the less damage is done to our cells. By preventing the damage to our DNA and mitochondria, antioxidants can stop and even reverse the aging process, and help prevent all kinds of degenerative diseases and cancers.
The ORAC value rates the capacity of the substance to prevent oxidation, i.e. its effectiveness as an antioxidant. It might help to compare the oxidation of molecules in our body to the oxidation of iron in an automobile - which we call "rusting". Oxidized or "rusted" iron becomes brittle and weak, and eventually breaks down into a reddish-brown dust known as iron oxide. You could say that our bodies are "rusting out" from oxidation by free radicals! Ashes to ashes, and rust to dust!
But our bodies can be protected from this rusting by the antioxidants we get from eating natural foods which have a high ORAC value. Many natural foods have been supplying human bodies with those protective antioxidants since we first evolved, but the problem today is that we are not eating many natural foods! We consume far too many processed foods and junk foods which have had the protective antioxidants proocessed out of them! So we suffer more and more from many diseases such as cancer and heart disease, which were relatively rare problems for our ancestors who were eating nothing but whole foods fresh from the farm.
It's very difficult today to avoid eating processed foods with inferior nutritional value, but we can at least try to eat enough whole foods (like cocoa or high-antioxidant fruits) or health supplements that supply us with enough antioxidants to protect us from degenerative diseases and the ravages of aging. We don't have to grow old before our time, or suffer painful ailments, or die from horrible diseases that could have been prevented.
While the general public may be aware that they need to eat more raw fruits to get a good supply of antioxidants, the fruits most commonly eaten by North Americans are fairly low on the ORAC scale. Cantaloupe, banana, apple, apricot, peach, pear, and watermelon all have an ORAC score of less than 251 per 100 grams. No wonder the average North American is not getting enough antioxidants in his or her daily diet.
Even milk chocolate with its ORAC score of 6,740 provides significantly more antioxidants per gram than most of the commonly consumed fruits and vegetables - and more than even the top scoring fruits like prunes (5,770), pomegranate (3,307), blueberries (2,400) and blackberries (2,036).
The daily diet of the average North American only scores 1,000 to 1,500 on the ORAC scale. Nutrition experts tell us that it should be at least 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC. Some say it should be even more than 5,000.
Eating healthy chocolate, with its super-high ORAC value, can be an efficient and enjoyable way to boost your daily dose of antioxidants and reduce the ravages of free radicals.
Be careful not to assume that ALL organic chocolate or dark chocolate products (or any processed food product) are "healthy" just because they claim to contain ingredients which are known to have a high ORAC score. It does NOT necessarily mean that the finished product you are consuming will have a high ORAC score too.
There are several factors that can affect the actual ORAC score of a finished food product such as dark chocolate:
(1) how it is processed (excessive heat can destroy flavanols and reduce the amount of available antioxidants, which lowers the ORAC value),
(2) how much of the high ORAC ingredients are actually in the product,
(3) how some ingredients affect the ORAC score of other ingredients (e.g. adding milk to cocoa lowers its effective ORAC score to a little more than half because dairy products tend to block the absorption of the antioxidant flavanols in the cocoa).
Only ONE company (which markets a variety of truly healthy chocolate products) actually dares to show you an independent laboratory's ORAC score per serving of its finished products right on their packaging (see "The Healthiest Chocolate" below) - so "what you see is what you get".
For the reasons given above, all other chocolate makers seem unwilling to let you know the actual ORAC score of the products they are selling you. One might wonder if their effective ORAC score is too low to really be considered a "healthy" chocolate product?
Table of ORAC Values for Common Foods
Here is a comparison of the ORAC score per 100 grams for some common foods known to have a high antioxidant level, listed in descending order.
- Unprocessed Raw Cacao - ORAC 28,000
- Acai Berries* - ORAC 18,500
- Dark Chocolate - ORAC 13,120
- Milk Chocolate - ORAC 6,740
- Prunes - 5,770
- Wolfberry Juice - 3,472
- Pomegranates - 3,307
- Raisins - 2,830
- Blueberries - 2,400
- Blackberries - 2,036
- Garlic - 1,939
- Kale - 1,770
- Cranberries - 1,750
- Strawberries - 1,540
- Tahitian Noni Juice - 1,506
- Raw Spinach - 1,260
- Raspberries - 1,220
- Brussels Sprouts - 980
- Plums - 949
- Alfalfa Sprouts - 930
- Steamed Spinach - 909
- Broccoli - 890
- Beets - 840
- Avocado - 782
- Oranges - 750
- Red Grapes - 739
- Red Bell Pepper - 710
- Cherries - 670
- Pink Grapefruit - 495
- Kidney Beans - 460
- Onion - 450
- Corn - 400
- Cauliflower - 385
- Frozen Peas - 375
- Potato - 300
- Cabbage - 295
- Banana - 210
- Carrot - 200
- Apple - 207
- Tomato - 195
- Peach - 170
- Lima Beans - 136
- Pear - 110
(*ORAC for Acai as determined by Brunswick Laboratories, USA.)
This will be important new information for millions of children and teenagers who hate the taste of brussel sprouts or broccoli. Now they can advise Mom that dark chocolate is a much healthier alternate source of antioxidants!
When comparing the antixodidant value (ORAC value) of foods you may actually be eating on a regular basis, another consideration is antioxidant value per calorie. What foods provide a healthy source of antioxidants without also providing too many calories from carbs and fats? Dark chocolate, in spite of the sweetener added to overcome the bitterness of raw cocoa, is actually one of the better providers of antioxidants per calorie!
One hundred grams of healthy dark chocolate (more than you would normally eat) provides 13,120 ORAC units of antioxidants and 552 calories of energy - which works out to 24 ORAC units per calorie.
That gives dark chocolate a better ORAC/calorie ratio than brussels sprouts (23), beets (20), plums (17), oranges (16), cauliflower (15), cherries (13), onions (12), cabbage (12), red grapes (10), tomato (9), head lettuce (9), string beans (6), potato (5), frozen peas (5), corn (5), carrot (5), apple (4), tofu (3), baked beans (3), pear (2), banana (2), or lima beans (1). In other words, if you are looking to increase your antioxidant intake from natural fruits and vegetables while consuming the least calories, eating a healthy dark chocolate is actually a lower-calorie source than all the common foods in this list!
And the ORAC per calorie ratio for dark chocolate (24) is about the SAME as two of the top antioxidant fruits - prunes (24) and raspberries (25). So it's not necessary to worry about getting too many calories when consuming healthy dark chocolate as`a supplemental source of antioxidants, because you don't need to eat very much dark chocolate`to absorb more antioxidants than you would get from many common fruits`and vegetables!
Prunes or chocolate? You can choose the chocolate!
Methylxanthines in Cocoa: Theobromine and Caffeine
Cocoa/cacao can substantially increase a person's energy level, since it contains two stimulating methylxanthines - a significant amount of theobromine and a small amount of caffeine.
Theobromine in Cocoa and Chocolate
Theobromine comprises between 1% and 2% of the cocoa bean. Its properties are: stimulating the central nervous system, relaxing smooth muscles, and dilating blood vessels. Compared to the other methylxanthine molecule, caffeine, the theobromine has about one-quarter the stimulating power.
Theobromine also acts as a mild diuretic (increases the rate of urination) and has been used as a medical drug in cases where a heart attack had resulted in too high an accumulation of body fluid. Theobromine is also a cardiac stimulant and has been used to treat high blood pressure.
WARNING: Theobromine In Chocolate Is Dangerous And Even Deadly to DOGS!
One of the reasons why dogs should not eat cocoa or dark chocolate is because this food can cause cardiac arrest in dogs (not cats), since they simply lack the enzymes necessary to metabolize quantities of theobromine in excess of 100 to 150 mg per kilogram of the dog's body weight. The smaller the dog, the less cocoa or dark chocolate it would take to cause death.
Milk chocolate contains less Theobromine per gram than dark chocolate and is less likely to be fatal if consumed by a dog; but do not feed him ANY chocolate candies, bars, chips, cake, icing or syrup, which just trains your dog to like and SEEK the food that can kill your pet!
Dogs LIKE to eat chocolate and will gorge themselves on all the chocolate they find, so do NOT leave chocolate candies or baking chocolate or chocolate chips where your pet dog can get at them! Even the type of garden mulch which is made from shredded cocoa hulls (and can attract some dogs who will eat it) could contain enough theobromine to harm or kill a dog.
For more information on the dangers to dogs from Chocolate and Cocao Mulch
and Xylitol Sweetener used in sugar-free candy and gum, click here: Dog Food Dangers
Caffeine in Cocoa and Chocolate
It generally agreed that cocoa and chocolate are poor sources of caffeine, though estimates of how much caffeine is present in cocoa may differ, depending on the source of the opinion. (Note that cocoa made from cacao beans which had the surrounding membrane removed before processing will contain almost no caffeine.) Various researchers have made the following estimates of the caffeine content in cocoa and chocolate...
- A cup of hot chocolate usually contains about 4 to 5 milligrams of caffeine, which is about 5% of the caffeine found in a cup of regular perked coffee. Some types of high-quality organic cocoa powder which have the outer membrane removed from the bean will contain almost no caffeine, for most of the caffeine is found in this membrane (which is usually ground up with the whole bean to make a cheaper form of cocoa powder).
- A cup of coffee may contain 50 to 175 milligrams of caffeine, a cup of tea may contain 25 to 100 milligrams, and a cup of cocoa beverage may contain zero to 25 milligrams of caffeine.
- A 1.4 ounce piece of chocolate (40 grams) contains about the same amount of caffeine as one cup of decaffeinated coffee.
- 800 grams of milk chocolate (a lot of chocolate!) contains the equivalent amount of caffeine found in a cup of regular coffee.
- A 50 gram piece of dark chocolate (the size of an average chocolate bar) will yield between 10 and 60 milligrams of caffeine; while an average 5-ounce cup of coffee can yield up to 175 milligrams of caffeine. (According to the Chocolate Information Center.)
An interesting experiment in the medical field of Homeopathy showed that a decoction of ground, roasted cocoa beans in boiling water produced an excitement of the nervous system similar to that caused by black coffee, and an excited state of circulation, demonstrated by an accelerated pulse. Yet when the same decoction was made with unroasted cocoa beans, neither effect was noticeable.
Can Chocolate Help You Be Happy?
We have all heard how chocolate can be a "comfort food" to help us cope with stress and depression and general unhappiness. There might actually be some connection between chocolate and happiness, when we look at certain chemicals which are found naturally in the cocoa/cacao bean and which can affect parts of the brain.
Phenylethylamine (PEA) in Cocoa
PEA is a chemical found in cocoa/cacao beans which increases the activity of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) in certain areas of the brain which control the ability to focus attention and stay alert. Elevated PEA levels occur naturally when we are captivated by a movie or good book, or are wholly focused on a project or task - when we lose track of time and are not consciously unaware of what is happening around us.
PEA is found in higher levels in the brains of happy people. Cocoa or dark chocolate has been found to contain up to 2.2 percent PEA (phenylethylamine).
Anandamide (The Bliss Chemical) in Cocoa
Anandamide (or n-arachidonoylethanolamine) is a neurotransmitter which has been isolated in cocoa in quantities which are significant enough to affect the brain. Anandamide is a cannabinoid naturally found in the human brain. Anandamide is a lipid (a fat) known as "the bliss chemical" because it is released when we are feeling good. (Anandamide is the English spelling; anandamine is the French spelling.)
It is true that anandamide has a similar effect to the compound THC in cannabis (marijuana), but it acts in a different way; acts only on certain groups of brain cells and not the whole brain; and thus creates blissful feelings with much less intensity.
Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors (MAO Inhibitors) in Cocoa/Cacao
These rare MAO inhibitors actually produce favorable results when consumed, by allowing more serotonin and other neurotransmitters such as anandamide, dopamine and others to circulate in the brain. According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, MAO inhibitors facilitate anti-aging and rejuvenation.
MAO inhibitors make one feel younger when they allow more neurotransmitters to remain in the bloodstream. A primary phenomenon that differentiates children from adults is the level of neurotransmitters in the blood and bodies of children. In general, as one lives longer and longer the level of neurotransmitters decreases. This leads to less creativity, less joy, more physical rigidity - and more rapid aging!
Cocoa, with its supply of MAO inhibitors, helps keep plenty of neurotransmitters in circulation, and thus helps prevent this unhappy phenomenon from occurring. "Think young - you'll have more fun!"
Now that you have learned how cocoa contains PEA, Anandamide, and MAO Inhibitors, and learned about the happy effects these chemicals can produce, can you see how healthy chocolate might deserve to be called "the happiest food"?
Chocolate Myths"Chocolate is a divine, celestial drink, the sweat of the stars, the vital seed, divine nectar, the drink of the gods, panacea and universal medicine."
- Geronimo Piperni
Chocolate as an Aphrodisiac
The peoples of Central American in the pre-Columbian era often spoke in metaphors composed of words or phrases which had a hidden meaning when uttered in sequence. This is common in many languages, including English. One of these ancient metaphors was yollotl, eztli, meaning "heart, blood," - a phrase which referred to cocoa. Chocolate is the heart's "blood" due to its magnesium, antioxidants, love chemicals and esoteric properties. Chocolate truly is "food for the heart".
Chocolate is a symbol of sensuality, pleasure, and sexuality. Cadbury Chocolate once did a survey of 1,534 British adults and asked how they like to treat themselves. About 66 percent of the women saw chocolate as a "mood enhancer" and 52 percent of the women said they'd choose chocolate over sex! One of the women said, "Chocolate provides guaranteed pleasure."
That percentage of women who choose chocolate over sex might even rise if the women were offerred real chocolate in the form of organic cocoa - or a low-calorie healthy 70% dark chocolate known as Stevia-Sweetened Coco Polo Chocolate!
Chocolate is a favorite gift from a lover to the beloved one. Chocolates are always given as love offerings. A box of chocolates is one of the most popular gifts for Valentine's Day.
Cocoa, because it is natural and unadulterated, has an even stronger love energy than manufactured chocolate candy. In ancient Aztec wedding ceremonies, the bride and groom would exchange five cacao beans with each other.
Chocolate Misconceptions and Misinformation
Is White Chocolate a Healthy Chocolate?
White chocolate is not really a "chocolate". It is actually made from "cocoa butter", which is produced from the fat extracted from the bean. The health benefits of dark chocolate made from cocoa beans are NOT provided by white chocolate, and the antioxidants provided by healthy dark chocolate are not able to be absorbed when dairy products are added to make milk chocolate. Thus you can only say that raw cocoa beans or dark chocolate with NO milk or dairy ingredients are the kind of healthy chocolate that is actually good for you. White chocolate and milk chocolate do not qualify as "healthy chocolate" - they are just another kind of candy.
Does Chocolate Contain Caffeine? Not Much.
Chocolate is actually a poor source of caffeine. A 50 gram piece of dark chocolate (the size of an average chocolate bar) will yield between 10 and 60 milligrams of caffeine; while an average 5-ounce cup of coffee can yield up to 175 milligrams of caffeine. Basically, dark chocolate contains about as much caffeine as a cup of DE-caffeinated coffee. A cup of hot chocolate contains only about 5 percent as much caffeine as a cup of perked coffee.
The outer shell surrounding each set of two cacao beans contains most of the caffeine. It is usually ground up with the two beans inside to increase the yield and lower the cost of the cocoa mass. By removing this shell membrane before processing the cocoa beans, a higher quality cocoa can be produced which is essentially caffeine-free.
Does Chocolate Cause Migraine Headaches? No.
Migraines have long been associated with chocolate consumption, particularly among women. One study of 490 persons with migraines found that 19 percent reported that chocolate precipitated their headaches. But other research has demonstrated no relationship between chocolate and headaches. Moffet, Swash and Scott studied a group of 25 migraine sufferers, giving them a chocolate sample one week and then a placebo (carob, which tastes like chocolate) two weeks later. The test subjects completed questionnaires regarding their reactions within 48 hours of consumption of the chocolate or carob sample. The subjects could not tell if they were eating chocolate or carob. There was no difference in headache occurrence after either sample. In a second study, the researchers repeated the same procedure with 15 of the 25 subjects and again found no difference in reported headaches after consuming either sample.Thus, as many reported headaches after eating chocolate as after NOT eating chocolate. You can draw your own conclusions.
Does Chocolate Cause Acne? No.
Your mother probably warned you that you could get a case of acne if you eat too much chocolate, but research by the U.S. Naval Academy concluded that there is no evidence that chocolate (or cocoa) causes or exacerbates (i.e. increases) acne. It is much more likely that the refined sugar added to chocolate candy is what increases the incidence of acne. (A yeast such as Candida feeds on sugars, and can be the cause of acne, eczema, and other skin infections. See Yeast Infections.)
Does Chocolate Cause Allergies? Not Likely.
A recent study showed that only 1 out of 500 people who believed they were allergic to chocolate actually tested positive for an allergy to chocolate. The concept that chocolate is a common allergen has existed for a long time, but recent evidence suggests that allergy to real chocolate (cocoa) is actually quite rare. More often the person is in fact allergic to the milk and dairy products contained in many kinds of chocolate candy, such as "milk chocolate".
Natural dark chocolate truly is a "health food" - especially in its raw form as natural organic cocoa beans, or as dark chocolate made WITHOUT dairy products or refined sugar.
The problems so often associated with chocolate and the many chocolate candy products are not caused by the real cocoa in the chocolate, but by substances added to it - the refined sugar, dairy products, milk, bad fats, waxes, and artificial preservatives. With all the chocolate flavored-products available today, you could even buy some that contain little or even no true Theobroma Cacao.
And even when you find some apparently healthy chocolate that contains 70 percent or more real cacao the heat processing and/or the Dutch process (using alkalis) will have destroyed most of the flavanols which provide most of the health benefits.
Organic Cocoa Powder
Organic Cocoa Powder can be ordered online from Badmonkey Botanicals in the form of a product called Organic Cocoa Extract Powder with 20% Theobromine
Another good source of healthy chocolate is unique in using as a sweetener the zero-calorie natural Stevia plant extract instead of cane sugar:
Stevia-Sweetened Coco Polo Chocolate from Coco Polo in Highland Park, New Jersey, USA.
They have managed to produce sugar-free dark chocolate, as well as milk chocolate, using Stevia that does NOT have the usual lingering taste that has discouraged many people from adding Stevia to coffee, tea, and other drinks as a safe, natural, low-calorie sweetener. Stevia was not approved by the US FDA for use in food products until 2011, when the FDA approved an extract of the plant species Stevia rebaudiana called Rebaudioside A for use in Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola. (Rebaudioside A is also known as Rebiana or Reb A. It is 200 times sweeter than cane sugar. Beware that some "Stevia" products like Truvia(R) are NOT pure Rebaudioside A and contain other substances. Also be aware that discontinuing the use of some artificial sweeteners can cause headaches for a while. These may be withdrawal symptoms, such as the headaches and lethargy that may occur when a heavy drinker of regular caffeinated coffee first switches to "decaf" coffee without the addictive caffeine. It is easy to blame the Stevia extract when one just made a switch from another type of sweetener, but the real cause could be the withdrawal from the other sweetener substance.)
Coco Polo also uses NON-GMO ingredients such as Lethecin from NON-GMO soy, and Erythritol naturally fermented from NON-GMO corn. They buy their cocoa from sustainable, farmer-friendly sources.
Coco Polo supplies 70% cocoa Dark Chocolate in natural flavor plus five flavors (Elderberry, Cherry, Almond, Ginger, Cocoa Nibs); 39% cocoa Milk Chocolate in natural flavor plus five flavors (Almond, Cherry, Elderberry, Hazelnut, Mango); and Bulk Chocolate.
The Healthiest Chocolate
The very best healthy, high-quality, dairy-free, organic chocolate made from the fruit of the Theobroma Cacao tree is Xocai™ chocolate from MXI Corp. headquartered in Reno, Nevada, USA (and with distribution centers in countries throughout the world, such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and the Philippines).
Xocai™ (pronounced like "SHOW-sigh") healthy chocolate products are produced with unprocessed, non-alkalized, non-lecithinized cacao powder, combined with acai ("ah-SIGH-hee") berries, blueberries, and low-glycemic natural sweeteners. Raw cacao has the greatest concentration of antioxidants, and acai berries the second greatest, among all of the natural foods.
Xocai is the world's ONLY source of chocolate made from cold-pressed raw cocoa that has NOT been heat-treated OR treated with alkaline chemicals (which destroy much of the antioxidant flavanols). Their Belgian gourmet chocolate is made by a much healthier patented process that no other chocolate manufacturer is able to duplicate.
For example, the Xoçai™ dark chocolate "X Power Squares" use raw cacao that is blanched, unfermented, sun-dried, non-roasted and cold-pressed - which means it contains eight times the levels of epicatechins and catechins, and four times the levels of procyandins than cacao produced with standard processing.
Just ONE 6-gram square of this Xoçai™ chocolate has an ORAC value of 3,582. That's more than the minimum U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (USRDA) of 3,000 ORAC from fruits and vegetables.
Yet few North Americans ever eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables to obtain even the recommended minimum daily amount of antioxidants because they eat far too many processed foods.
The daily diet of the average North American only scores 1,000 to 1,500 on the ORAC scale. Eating that one little 6-gram Xoçai™ dark chocolate wafer provides more than twice the amount of antioxidants the average North American is getting per day.
Better yet, this healthy chocolate is caffeine-free and is low in fat and sugar!
Even diabetics can eat this amazingly delicious tasting gourmet chocolate.
And people have actually achieved some serious rapid weight loss by eating the Xocai chocolate 20 minutes before a meal! (It naturally reduces appetite, so you don't eat more food than you really need.)
The patented Xoçai™ chocolate products are likely the healthiest brand of chocolate you can buy.
And it's the only chocolate brand which can truly provide so many natural antioxidants in the form of flavanols and catechins that the certified ORAC score per serving is actually SHOWN on the packaging. Other dark chocolate manufacturers won't disclose the actual ORAC score of their chocolate products - and we wonder why. But MXI Corp. has truly earned their "bragging rights" and proudly displays the ORAC score of all its healthy chocolate products right on the label.
MXI Corp. sends samples of its Xoçai™ chocolate products to a well-known and highly-respected independent testing facility in the USA, Brunswick Laboratories, to measure their actual ORAC value, which is then printed on the label of each organic chocolate product. To date, no other chocolate maker has been willing to publicly disclose the independently-measured ORAC score of its chocolates.
The various Xoçai™ chocolate products with unprocessed cocoa include:
- the dark chocolate X Power Squares™ (6 grams, ORAC 3,582);
- the dark chocolate Nuggets (12 grams, 70 Calories, ORAC 3,120), individually wrapped in gold foil;
- the Omega Bars™ (34 grams, 190 Calories, with 200 mg. Omega 3 Fatty Acids, ORAC 8,840);
- the Xoçai™ Protein Bar "Ultimate Antioxidant Bar" (38 grams, 150 Calories, 10 grams protein, 6 grams fiber, ORAC 4,066);
- the Activ™ high-antioxidant pure chocolate beverage (10 oz. bottle, fat-free, 30 calories per 1 fl.oz. serving, ORAC 4,275 per fl.oz.).
Buyer, be warned... once you have tasted TRUE chocolate like this, all others will seem like poor imitations!
Another good source of healthy chocolate is 24 Karat Chocolate from the ForeverGreen company in Orem, Utah, USA.
24 Karat Chocolate - Made from organic Theobroma Cacao
You may be familiar with "Karat" or "K" as a measure of purity with respect to gold, but originally the Karat system was applied to salt. In ancient times, salt was highly prized and was used as a medium for trade and a form of currency. That's where the phrase "a man worth his salt" originated. There was 5 Karat salt, 10 Karat salt and so on, depending on the amount of dirt or "dross" the salt contained. The 24 Karat salt was the most pure, prized, and valuable. Following this tradition, ForeverGreen named its healthy dark chocolate 24 Karat to symbolize its organic purity, free of unhealthy additives.
Main Ingredients of 24 Karat Chocolate
- all-natural cocoa from organic Theobroma Cacao
- organic vanilla
- organic raw cane sugar
24 Karat Organic Chocolate contains NO added flavorings and NO preservatives.
And this healthy chocolate is 100% Guilt-Free!.
Treat yourself to 24-karat pure, luxuriously rich, delicious dark chocolate like you've never tasted before!
24 Karat Chocolate is also used in ForeverGreen's other chocolate products, including...
Chocolate Teasers with added libido enhancers for men or women; and
Thunder De-Lite which contains appetite-suppressing organic Hoodia and highly nutritious organic ingredients to provide a delicious and healthy "chocolate diet" meal-replacement product.
Losing weight while consuming chocolate... imagine that!
So go indulge yourself! This guilt-free healthy chocolate is good for you!
Antioxidants in Chocolate. wineserver.ucdavis.edu/chocolate/choc1.htm
Lee, KW, Kim, YJ, Lee, HJ, and Lee, CY. Cocoa Has More Phenolic Phytochemicals and a Higher Antioxidant Capacity than Teas and Red Wine. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2003;51:7292–7295.
Keen Carl L. Chocolate: Food as Medicine/Medicine as Food. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2001;20:436–439S.
Serum Cholesterol. World Cocoa Foundation
The Good News About Chocolate. World Cocoa Foundation
Healthy Chocolate is ©2006,2014 by Michael Star and others. E&OE.
The content of this page is provided for educational purposes only, and should not be considered as medical advice. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not review or test products classed as a "food supplement". The following statement is required by the U.S. FDA:
"This product line has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product line is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease."