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Heal your Heart with Chocolates

Written by: Cherlyne Mok, R.D, July 2020

The love of chocolate has sparked interest amongst many researchers’ for the search for its health benefits. After all, aren’t we constantly finding excuses for our guilty pleasures? Thankfully, researchers’ effort did not go to waste, because eating chocolate might be beneficial for your heart health! Don’t believe me? Continue reading to find out!


For you folks who are reading this to find out how chocolate could heal your heart emotionally, check out this article instead!


Dietary Flavonoids and Heart Health

It is well known that diet plays an important role in preventing heart diseases. To be more specific, eating a lot of fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of heart diseases. 


With that in mind, scientists’ constant curiosity has led to the discovery of a specific plant compound that is linked with decreased risks of cardiovascular diseases. These plant compounds are called flavonoids (1). Basically, dietary flavonoids are linked with a decreased risk of heart diseases.


Sources of Flavonoids

Flavonoids are a family of plant compounds that are naturally found in many fruits and vegetables including blueberries, oranges, onions, kale, broccoli and many more. 

In addition, flavonoids can also be found in foods which are sourced from plants, examples are teas, soy foods, and chocolates. (2) Yes, chocolate! I was as excited as you are! But before rushing to a grocery store to stock up on that chocolate you’ve been constantly craving (who doesn't, amirite?), let’s talk about different types of chocolates and their flavonoids content. 


Flavonoid Content in Different Types of Chocolate

Since flavonoids are mostly found in cocoa solids (which is what makes chocolate bitter), the content of cocoa solids in chocolates is what determines their flavonoid contents. 


Dark chocolates are made with the highest content of cocoa solids, and therefore have the highest flavonoids content. Dark chocolate contains about 2-3x more flavonoids than milk chocolates. On the contrary, white chocolate does not contain any cocoa solids and hence has negligible content of flavonoids. In short, it is recommended to choose 70% dark chocolate or higher to maximize your flavonoids intake (3).


Fun fact #1: Did you know that chocolate was historically eaten for it’s healing properties? (4)

Fun fact #2: Did you know that our Bean Bark is made with 73% dark chocolate? They’re the perfect source of flavonoids which may help reduce your risk of heart diseases!

 

References:
1. Galleano, Monica PhD; Oteiza, Patricia I PhD; Fraga, Cesar G PhD. Cocoa, Chocolate, and Cardiovascular Disease, Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology: December 2009 - Volume 54 - Issue 6 - p 483-490 doi: 10.1097/FJC.0b013e3181b76787
2. Higdon, J., Ph.D. (2020, April 02). Flavonoids. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/dietary-factors/phytochemicals/flavonoids
3. Harvard T. H. Chan (2020, June 10). Dark Chocolate. Retrieved June 22, 2020, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/dark-chocolate/
4. Dillinger TL. Barriga P. Escarcega S. Jimenez M. Salazar Lowe D. Grivetti LE. Food of the gods: cure for humanity? A cultural history of the medicinal and ritual use of chocolate. J Nutr. 2000;130:2057S–7072S.

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