The Truth About Dark Chocolate… Part 2
Last week we talked about dark chocolate’s latest boon: the capacity to protect skin from UV damage. What can’t this stuff do? It’s also been said to dramatically lower risk of heart attack, reduce blood pressure, boost memory, and improve skin appearance.
The glitch is that not all dark chocolate is created equal, and (not surprisingly) as consumers it’s hard to know which ones contain the higher levels of flavanol—the bitter-tasting antioxidant found in cocoa beans. Flavanols are at the heart of most chocolate benefits (excuse the pun)—and yet their integrity is often sacrificed during manufacturing processes. That means even your darkest dark chocolate may not be packing the antioxidant punch you thought. Boo.
That means even your darkest dark chocolate may not be packing the antioxidant punch you thought.
We promised to go digging on this issue, and we have. Here’s what we’ve found so far…
—Big companies like Mars and Callebaut are trying to capitalize on dark chocolate fever. Mars has launched CocoaVia, which is said to be laced with plant sterols and flavanols. Are they minimizing flavanol loss during processing or adding these ingredients back in? Unclear. Callebaut says that it has found a way to preserve the antioxidants in manufacturing, and has launched its “age-defying” Acticoa. But we’d like to see independent studies on both of these products—call it a hunch, but we highly doubt anyone at the FDA is verifying these claims.
—According to Monica over at NutrionData some regions—notably Ecuador, Columbia and the Ivory Coast—boast double the flavanol-levels of beans from the Dominican Republic and Peru. She also points out that really fancy chocolate may also name the variety of bean being used—have any of you ever noticed this? If so, then look for beans from the Amazon and Forestaro regions.
—Lastly, pure cocoa powder (not the “dutched” kind) is a good source of flavanols. We recommend organic, and if you prefer the taste of milk chocolate, you can totally mix the cocoa powder into milk or yogurt. According to a 2007 study this will not diminish benefits. Some good news at last!