squares of dark chocolate, improve your health with chocolate

Q. Is there any evidence for the health benefits of chocolate? From what I read, there have never been true randomized studies.

Some ingredients in cocoa are probably good, but all that sugar really negates the benefits. I love chocolate too, but with all the massive obesity around us, do people need another excuse to stuff their faces with chocolate?

Maybe the answer is to get high-polyphenol cocoa and add it periodically to food.

A. There have been many randomized studies of dark chocolate or its antioxidant ingredients, cocoa polyphenols. They have consistently shown that cocoa polyphenols lower blood pressure and reduce insulin resistance (The Netherlands Journal of Medicine, March, 2013). In addition, an 8-week double-blind trial in 90 elderly people showed that consuming 990 mg of cocoa flavonoids daily in a drink had benefits for cognitive function (Hypertension, Sept., 2012).

Your idea of using high-polyphenol cocoa is good. CocoaVia is one such product that comes in a variety of flavors. Another brand making that claim is Chococru.

People who prefer solid chocolate as a source of flavonoids could get the benefit from a very small piece of dark chocolate: 5 grams a day, about the size of a postage stamp, offers benefits in epidemiological studies. Make sure the chocolate is at least 70% cocoa solids.

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  1. Chad

    Phyllis, it looks like they stopped making the chocolate almonds a while ago. On their website it looks like they have stick packs and some snack bars called goodness knows.

  2. Phyllis

    njw, that sounds like a fruitcake! I add oat bran, flax, walnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg, and whatever nuts I have on hand but only one kind at a time!) along with soy milk. Chocolate in my oatmeal does not appeal, however.

  3. njw

    You can get raw organic cacao ‘nibs’ and/or powder at Whole Foods. I put a teaspoon of each into my (steel cut) oatmeal along with dried, shredded organic coconut and dried goji berries, mix it up and let it sit for awhile to hydrate the dried stuff. This is easy to fix up and tastes great – no need for other sweeteners since I also add pecans, walnuts, almonds, frozen blueberries and (thawed) organic strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Yum!

  4. TD

    Just nibble on a few Hershey Special Dark Chocolate lightly sweetened baking bits. Or Hershey Dark powdered cocoa in hot skim or 1% milk, add a little Splenda – Voila!


    @Elisabeth — put a tablespoon of cinnamon in the botttom of your coffee filter, put your coffee on top and brew. It takes the bitterness out of the coffee. It is delicious (add a little cocoa powder if you want too)! Yum! I can smell it thru the house now!

  6. Phyllis

    I used CocoaVia products in the past, but have been unable to find them for a couple of years. Does anyone know whether and where these products are still available? My favorite was the chocolate covered almonds!

  7. Elizabeth

    I put a total of a heaping tablespoon of plain, unsweetened cocoa in my coffee every morning and have done so for years. In this article “high polyphenol” cocoa is touted as superior. Is what I’ve been doing insufficient? I really don’t want to spend a great deal of money on the cocoa. Thanks

  8. RER

    Ghirardelli makes an Intense Dark chocolate which is 86% cacao in bars and also approx. 10gm individual pieces.
    Delicious and apparently even good for you (in moderation) – what a combination.

  9. Wendy

    Organic raw Cacao powder with no sugar added can be obtained easily from internet sources. ORAC is approximately 95,000. Great for baking, chocolate shakes, hot chocolate, etc. Using Xylitol as a sweetener adds even more benefit.

  10. RDH

    I have found that chocolate can be just as enjoyable without the sweetener. Every morning I look forward to my cup of hot cocoa which is made with 2 tablespoons of high quality cocoa powder (organic is available but bulk Hershey is also quite good) and hot water. To this I add a bit of coconut creamer or dairy creamer but not sugar. At first you will notice the bitterness but then the rich chocolate flavor surfaces. Good stuff….if you need a bit of sweetness, a little stevia works. I don’t miss the sugar…..nor do I use it with coffee or tea anymore.
    Like coffee, I sometimes drink it “black” with no creamer. Fewer calories, better for your blood sugar levels, a good dose of beneficial polyphenols and a real treat besides. And, just like coffees and teas, you can experiment with different brands of cocoa and you will be able to discern subtle differences in taste. Some are more bitter; others are silky smooth and delicious (and expensive).
    This is the way I prefer my chocolate fix now and I probably would gag from the overpowering sweetness if it was prepared with the customary amounts of sugar.

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