Great news on chocolate front! Chocolate is good for you. Under certain circumstances.
Katherine Tallmadge, spokesperson for American Dietetic Association, says, in 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 department of nutrition at University of California, Davis, states in same article that “the flavanols in cocoa help maintain a healthy vascular system. They reduce blood clotting -- an aspirin like effect -- reduce oxidative damage and improve blood flow.”
Unfortunately flavanols in chocolate are bitter and are mostly removed from processed chocolate. The level decreases with each step, from bean to 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. We can soon expect chocolate bars and candies that advertise their high level of flavanols. In meantime, only product that states its flavanol level is Mars’ Dove Dark Chocolate, which has 150 mg. in 1.3 oz., a high level. It also has 200 calories. We live in an imperfect world.
While we’re waiting for more high-flavanol products, Ms. Tallmadge recommends unsweetened cocoa powder, but not alkalized “Dutch processed” kind, which has had its flavanols reduced. Next in desirability is semisweet or bittersweet chocolate with a high cocoa percentage. Some chocolates contain as much as 70 percent cocoa, but they can have as little as 35 percent. The percent of cocoa in milk chocolate can be even lower, and she 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 chocolate. Any more than that and you’re probably going to take in too many calories for weight control.”