Organic dark chocolate (made of 72% cacao or more) is up on the list with berries, kale, bee pollen, flaxseed and other so-called “superfoods”. And for good reason, dark chocolate is healthy.
Flavanols in chocolate activate enzymes that release nitric oxide – which helps relax and widen blood vessels. When the blood vessels are relaxed, blood flows freer, and blood pressure is reduced. Nitric oxide also thins the blood, reducing the chance of a clot and lowering the risk of a stroke. Cacao also contains catechins and epicatechins which are present in green tea and wine. These heart healthy antioxidants lower harmful cholesterol.
The fat in dark chocolate is also healthy, containing mostly stearic acid, which does not raise bad cholesterol levels like other fat. So… if dark chocolate is so healthy, why are some people trying to mess with it?
It smells like this could make food manufacturers a whole lot of money. According to research presented at a meeting of the American Chemical Society, there is a new process in the works that would allow candy makers the ability to infuse dark chocolate with fruit juice, soft drinks or even vitamin C water. Chemistry enables micro bubbles of liquid to be placed inside chocolate allowing the candy to maintain its lush texture. The infused chocolate, researchers say, would end up being much lower in fat than traditional chocolate.
Missing the Point
The scientists who have spent many a late night in the lab in an attempt to make dark chocolate less fattening have missed a well researched fact. The fat in dark chocolate IS HEALTHY! Dark chocolate contains the same healthy monosaturated fat, oleic acid, found in olive oil. The saturated fat in dark chocolate is comprised of stearic and palmitic acids. Stearic acid has no impact on cholesterol while palmitic has only a slight impact on cholesterol.
The fat in dark chocolate is also beneficial for brain and immune system function. Dark chocolate also releases chemicals in the brain that make us feel good. A recent study also revealed that women who eat high quality dark chocolate regularly have a lower BMI than those who consume chocolate less often.
What Will Happen
What will happen, when food manufacturers begin to add sugar-laden “fruit” juices and chemicals to dark chocolate in this latest healthy food assault is not good. Clearly, infusing dark chocolate with fruit juice or soda will raise the sugar content and thus contribute to calories. They may market the candy as being healthier because it is lower in fat, but it must be kept in mind that sugar turns to fat and is to blame for most of the lifestyle illnesses we see today. Time will tell if this chocolate assault actually makes it from the lab to the grocer’s shelves. Let’s hope not. Most dark chocolate lovers like it the way it is, plain, simple and healthy!
– The Alternative Daily