Does dark choco­late live up to its ‘superfood’ health claims? Di­eti­tian Ni­cole Se­nior has some bite-sized facts that you might want to de­vour.

Healthy Food Guide (Australia) - - CONTENTS -

The science be­hind which types are the best

What’s so good about choco­late (well … be­sides the ob­vi­ous)?

Choco­late is made from co­coa beans that are nat­u­rally rich in flavonoid an­tiox­i­dants. These have been shown in sci­en­tific stud­ies to re­duce ‘bad’ LDL choles­terol, in­crease ‘good’ HDL choles­terol, and help our blood ves­sels be more flex­i­ble. They have also been shown to pre­vent our blood from be­com­ing ‘sticky’ and form­ing clots, re­duce in­flam­ma­tion, im­prove in­sulin sen­si­tiv­ity and lower blood pres­sure.

It’s about the an­tiox­i­dants

Choco­late comes in sev­eral forms. Co­coa pow­der has the most an­tiox­i­dants, con­tain­ing 10 per cent by weight of flavonoids. Next comes dark choco­late, and the higher the co­coa content, the more an­tiox­i­dants it con­tains. Milk choco­late has half as much as dark choco­late, and white choco­late has no an­tiox­i­dants.

Remember, choco­late is high in sat­u­rated fat and kilo­joules, so go easy. Co­coa pow­der is a de­li­cious way to en­joy that great choco­late taste (as a drink or in bak­ing) and con­tains much less fat than choco­late. Hav­ing choco­late with nuts is a good way to com­bine heart-friendly nu­tri­ents in an en­joy­able way.

What about choco­late bars?

Choco­late bars with added in­gre­di­ents like caramel, nougat, marsh­mal­low and bis­cuit/wafer are lower in choco­late flavonoids and higher in kilo­joules.

Man­u­fac­tur­ers are mak­ing them big­ger and more widely avail­able. Avoid grab­bing one as a quick snack and in­stead, en­joy a mod­est por­tion of rich, dark choco­late in a re­laxed way. Many peo­ple say dark choco­late is more sat­is­fy­ing than other choco­late be­cause of its rich­ness and in­ten­sity.

An­tiox­i­dants in bev­er­ages

Re­searchers from Cor­nell Univer­sity in the US have dis­cov­ered that hot co­coa is higher in to­tal an­tiox­i­dants than red wine or tea. Hot co­coa had the high­est level of phe­no­lics and flavonoids, fol­lowed by red wine, then green tea and black tea.

Can choco­late lower your choles­terol?

Be­ing high in sat­u­rated fat, it isn’t a choles­terol-lowering food. Sorry! This is why por­tion con­trol is so im­por­tant.

Savour qual­ity choco­late over nov­elty bars for the max­i­mum ben­e­fits

Co­coa pow­der has the high­est an­tiox­i­dant content of all choco­late

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