American researchers from the University of California, Davis reported this week that chocolate might be good for you. Chocolate contains compounds called flavonoids that can help maintain a healthy heart and good circulation and reduce blood clotting--which can lead to heart attacks and stroke.
The researchers have observed an increase in antioxidant capacity after chocolate consumption, and also modulation of certain compounds that affect blood vessels. Antioxidants are substances that help reduce the effects of cell-damaging free radicals in the body. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains are high in antioxidant vitamins such as C and E.
Flavonoids in chocolate are derived from cocoa, which is rich in the compounds. Some research has shown that a small bar of dark chocolate contains as many flavonoids as six apples, 4.5 cups of tea, 28 glasses of white wine and two glasses of red wine.
But there are variations in the levels of flavonoids in chocolate and cocoa products depending on the production process, during which many flavonoids can be destroyed.
But experts say that although chocolate contains flavonoids, it also has high levels of fat and sugar. Fruits and vegetables contain much higher levels of flavonoids, plus many other beneficial nutrients without the fat content.
The message is, enjoy a little chocolate in moderation, but ensure you eat 5 to 10 portions of fruit and vegetables daily to get all the flavonoids you need without the added fat.
All research on this web site is the property of Leslie Beck Nutrition Consulting Inc. and is protected by copyright. Keep in mind that research on these matters continues daily and is subject to change. The information presented is not intended as a substitute for medical treatment. It is intended to provide ongoing support of your healthy lifestyle practices.