Planning to Give Sweets to Your Sweetie? Some Types of Dark Chocolate a Little Healthier than Others

Feb 08, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Before buying that box of chocolates for your Valentine, it is important to understand the type of chocolate to buy if you are looking for health benefits, according to Brian Lindshield, Kansas State University assistant professor of human nutrition.

Lindshield said can be good for you -- but it depends on how the chocolate is processed.

"The whole idea behind chocolate being beneficial comes from the Kuna who live on a remote island off of Panama," Lindshield said. "The Kuna people have a unique diet, and one of the reasons scientists were interested in them is because they are one of the only populations that does not develop high blood pressure."

Generally, as Americans age, blood pressure rises, which results in many developing the chronic condition known as , Lindshield said. However, when researchers studied the Kuna, they found that their blood pressure did not increase as they aged. Scientists also studied Kuna who had moved off the remote island to Panama City and found that after they moved, their blood pressure increased as they aged, more like most other populations in the world.

"Clearly, there was something that they were doing on the island that was resulting in lower blood pressure," Lindshield said. "What researchers found was the Kuna's cocoa consumption on the island was huge compared to when they moved off the island. We're not talking , we're talking cocoa powder, which is super bitter."

That bitterness is due to compounds found in cocoa called flavinols which have been attributed to lowering blood pressure, Lindshield said.

The problem with most chocolates, however, is that most of their flavinols are destroyed during processing. Lindshield said that Mars Candy Company has developed a processing method that retains the flavinols, resulting in some of its products that are more heart-healthy.

Explore further: Cancer patients should not hesitate to speak with their doctors about dietary supplements

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Flavanols in cocoa may offer benefits to the brain

Feb 18, 2007

A special cocoa made to retain naturally occurring compounds called flavanols may have the potential to help maintain healthy brain function and chart the course for future research that could lead to new solutions for preventing ...

Cocoa 'vitamin' health benefits could outshine penicillin

Mar 12, 2007

The health benefits of epicatechin, a compound found in cocoa, are so striking that it may rival penicillin and anaesthesia in terms of importance to public health, reports Marina Murphy in Chemistry & Industry, the magazi ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

deatopmg
1 / 5 (1) Feb 08, 2010
HEADLINE: "Some Types of Dark Chocolate a Little Healthier than Others"

"Lindshield said that Mars Candy Company has developed a processing method that retains the flavinols, resulting in some of its products that are more heart-healthy."

WHICH ONES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!????????????
cakmn
5 / 5 (1) Feb 08, 2010
Mars Candy Co labels their specially processed chocolate with "Cacaopro" so you could look for that. Other companies also have "special processes" that preserve more of the flavinoids than does ordinary processing. One thing to be aware of, though, is that milk chocolate or chocolate consumed along with milk or any milk products will not give you any special benefits. Milk has been demonstrated to negate the benefits of flavinoids that might be in the chocolate - a fact that is, unfortunately, seldom mentioned in articles about the benefits of dark chocolate. Also, due to inconsistencies in labeling practices in the chocolate industry, "dark" chocolate does not always mean it is dairy-free. A lot of studies have actually tested the effects of cacao rather than of processed chocolate.