Once Again Dark Chocolate Passes The Heart Healthy Test

It’s Friday and I Have Good News

We’ve heard this before but I’m guessing we’ll never tire of it.  Dark Chocolate may lower the risk of heart disease.

A recent study was conducted by San Diego State University to determine the health benefits of dark chocolate.  The University took 31 people and divided them into two groups.  One group ate 50 grams of dark chocolate per day. The other ate 50 grams of white chocolate per.  Both consumed the chocolate for a total of 15 days.

The participants’ blood pressure, skin blood flow, lipid fat profiles and blood glucose levels were recorded before and after they ate the chocolate each day.  At the end of the project the data showed that the people that ate the dark chocolate had lower levels of blood glucose, and LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.

Chocolove XOXO - A treat for the palate.

What Makes The Dark Chocolate So Special?

There’s a secret ingredient that is found only in dark chocolate: Flavanols.  Apparently the darker the chocolate the more flavanols there are to be found.  Milk chocolate and white chocolate just don’t cut it.  If you want the healthy side effects look for chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa (cacao).  Some of the most popular and easily found brands that hit the mark are:

  • Ghiradelli Intense Dark – Ghiradelli has two darks: Twilight Delight with 72% cacao and Midnight Reverie with 86%.  The Espresso Escape and Evening Dream are close.  Both have 60%.
  • Godiva – Godiva has two chocolate bars that have 72% cacao.  One with almonds and one plain.
  • Lindt  – Lindt is one of my favorites and they go really dark, from 70% cocoa all the way up to 99%.  I haven’t tried the 99% bar.  Is it possible for chocolate to have too much cocoa in it?
  • Hersheys – Hersheys has an extra dark line of chocolates but nothing over 60% cocoa.  It’s close to the goal but not quite there.

Some of the best dark chocolates aren’t found in the local grocery, although those listed above are all excellent. If you really want to treat your palate here are a couple chocolates to try.

Chocolove XOXOX has a variety of dark chocolate bars. The bar pictured above is one of my favorites and has 70% cocoa content. The best part is there’s a love poem inside the package. These can be purchased at Whole Foods, World Market at affiliates.

Organic Fair Trade Bar with Orange – Also 70% cocoa with orange peel. This bar is delicious.  I buy them at the local food co-op that carries a variety of organic chocolates.

Divine Dark Chocolate With Raspberries – Quite possibly my favorite chocolate bar. The combination of the bitter chocolate and tart raspberries is, well, divine. This is another chocolate bar that I find at the food co-op, but you can purchase on-line at their store. 

Divine dark chocolate is divine.

Please Don’t Take Back What You Said

So many of these research studies prove one thing and then another one is done and the outcome is different. Just this week the American Heart Association stated that the belief that good oral hygiene is related to good overall health and that brushing and flossing regularly can lower your risk of heart disease is not true.

I’ve been drinking coffee without guilt for a few years since one study after another began to prove that drinking coffee is good for your health. Coffee, minus the cream and sugar, helps with just about everything from decreasing the risk of Parkinson’s disease and some cancers to preventing diabetes.

The next study that comes out could show that this idea about the flavanols in dark chocolate being good for your heart is a bunch of hooey too. And, even if it is good for us, we don’t want to indulge in dark chocolate without abandon.  A 3-ounce Ghiradelli bar has about 210 calories and 23 grams of fat. Too much of it is going to be bad for our waistline.

In moderation however, dark chocolate is another guiltless pleasure like good red wine and coffee.  It’s meant to be savored and enjoyed.