When people think of eating right, most wouldn’t include a daily portion of chocolate in their diet. It’s high in saturated fat and is more associated with sin. (Not thin.) Yet while some chocolate products are high in sugar and made with the use of hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, more and more studies are showing that all chocolate is not created equal! In fact, certain forms may actually be beneficial. (In moderation, of course.)
Chocolate is made from cocoa powder derived by processing the pulp and seeds from inside large pods that grow on the trunk of the Cacao tree. Like all plants, the Cacao plant contains flavonoids, a type of polyphenol (antioxidant). The most common flavonoids in cocoa are flavonols, which exist both as single compounds, and compounds linked together known as procyanidins. In recent years both flavonols and procyanidins have been linked with cardiovascular health and may contribute to a healthy diet and lifestyle in a combination of vegetables, fruits and regular exercise. Flavonols also affect the flavor of chocolate; and every step of processing, from harvest to finished product can affect their levels.
The University of Michigan Integrative Medicine website suggests dark chocolate as the best source of the benefits chocolate has to offer for several reasons. Phytochemicals (plant chemicals) such as flavonoids contribute to pigment. More flavonoids mean more pigment (darker) and therefore more health benefit potential.
Choose chocolate made from cocoa butter. Although high in stearic acid, a saturated fatty acid, it has been shown to have a neutral (possibly beneficial) effect on cholesterol. So not all saturated fats metabolize equally in the body! Dark chocolate, sometimes called “bittersweet” or “semisweet”, contains higher amounts of cocoa and usually has less sugar. It decreases LDL (bad) cholesterol oxidation and increases blood flow in arteries, while reducing the risk of blood clots and may even lower high blood pressure. It can improve mood and pleasure by raising the serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain and even contains a number of minerals, like calcium, magnesium and potassium. An average of 1 oz a day (or up to 7 oz a week) is recommended.
Just picture it: Breakfast at Mäni’s — fresh fruit, yogurt, maybe some granola, perhaps a few vitamin supplements and a truffle; all part of a balanced breakfast! (Or lunch or dinner or in between snack.) And remember all our chocolate cakes, cookies, and sweets at Mäni’s are made from using dark chocolate sweetened with barley malt. COME IN FOR A FREE SAMPLE!