Good for the Heart. What Else?
In general, chocolate and cocoa are considered to be a rich source of antioxidants. Chocolate and cocoa also contain a high level of flavonoids, which may have beneficial cardiovascular effects.
The heart-protecting properties of dark chocolate have been recognised for some time. Numerous dietary intervention studies have demonstrated cardioprotective effects of flavanol-rich foods and beverages. Black tea, green tea, red wine, various fruits and berries, cocoa and cocoa products all contain high concentrations of flavonoids, phenolic phytochemicals, which have been extensively investigated for their chemopreventive and antioxidant capacities.
In addition, cocoa contributes various minerals— magnesium, phosphorus, potassium—needed for the optimum function of the body’s various systems. Quality dark chocolate and cocoa powders contain high amounts of the mineral magnesium.
At the same time, there are other factors that should be carefully considered before deciding if chocolate can become a part of a person’s diet plan. Chocolate contains other components mixed with cocoa to make cocoa more palatable. These additional components contribute to less healthy attributes of chocolate products. Fat, sugar, and other components provide a high number of calories and can negatively impact a person’s health by increasing the risk of obesity and interfering with diabetes.
Also, the processing of cocoa causes the loss of flavanols in most commercially available cocoas and many chocolates.
Consumers should also realise that, in general, none of the instant cocoa mixes or other various chocolate-flavoured products contain the cardioprotective flavonoids. These mixes and products along with candy items such as chocolate-covered caramel-nut chews and white chocolates are generally not considered to be the heart-healthy choices.