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For the love of chocolate



You’ve probably heard that eating chocolate is good for your health. Newspapers, magazines and health food stores are packed with articles about the health benefits of chocolate. Read on to learn more about the facts and fiction of chocolate and your health.

  



Chocolate…the latest health food?

Chocolate may offer potential health benefits because of compounds called flavonoids.  Flavonoids are antioxidants that help the body repair damaged cells, which may reduce the risk of heart disease and other chronic diseases.  However, much more research needs to be done before we can make recommendations about chocolate and its affect on your heart health.


Types of chocolate

  • Dark chocolate and cocoa powder, which are the least processed, have the highest levels of flavonoids and may offer the greatest potential health benefits.
  • Milk chocolate and white chocolate are not good sources of flavonoids, so they offer few benefits.
 

For flavonoids that don’t have the fat and sugar found in chocolate, choose berries, apples, citrus fruits, grapes, nuts, onions and green tea more often. There is no target amount of flavonoids that we need in our diet, so eating these foods will provide both flavonoids and other important nutrients.



4 healthy ways to enjoy chocolate:

As consumers, we have no way of knowing the flavonoid content of chocolate because it’s not on the nutrition label. For this reason, follow our tips below.

  • Choose dark chocolate that is at least 60% cocoa solids.
  • Keep portion sizes small.
  • Use cocoa powder for baking and beverages. You’ll still get the chocolate taste while keeping the fat and calories low.
  • Avoid chocolate with candy coatings, creamy centres, or added nuts; these are higher in calories and sugar, and lower in flavonoids.


Test your knowledge of chocolate trivia.

True or False?

Chocolate was first eaten in Spain in the 1600’s.

FALSE. Chocolate was eaten by the Mayan Indians in Guatemala as early as 600AD. However, Spain was the first European country to discover chocolate.


Cocoa beans, which are used to make chocolate, were once used instead of money in South America.

TRUE. Over 900 years ago, people in South America used cocoa beans to buy supplies. 


North Americans eat more chocolate than any other nation across the world.

FALSE. The top chocolate eaters live in Europe.  North Americans don’t even make it in the top 10.


The first heart shaped candy box was made in the late 1800s for Valentine’s Day.

TRUE.  Richard Cadbury, son of John Cadbury who founded Cadbury Brothers chocolate company in 1860, created the first heart shaped gift box. 

 

Recipes:

To use chocolate the better way, try these recipes:

Spiced Hot Chocolate

Chicken in Mexican Mole Sauce

Chocolate Raspberry Brownie Bites, Heart and Stroke Foundation

For more information:

What you need to know about antioxidants
 

Copyright © Dietitians of Canada 2016. All rights reserved.

Dietitians of Canada acknowledges the financial support of EatRight Ontario by the Ontario government. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.