Why You Should Eat and Drink High-Cacao Dark Chocolate
Mark’s Daily Apple
by Mark Sisson: I
Decided I Had Nothing To Lose
Yes, I know,
I know. That title isn't exactly comforting. I hate giving you guys
bad news, seeing as how you make this website possible, and I hate
making unpopular recommendations like "eat more butter"
or "get some sun"
or "drink a glass of red
wine," but I have to stick to the truth here, even if it hurts.
And the truth is that you should probably be eating dark chocolate
on a semi-regular basis because the stuff is pretty dang good for
you. Before you log out, never to return again, give me a minute
to explain myself:
You were kids
once. Your parents probably forced you to finish your overcooked,
mushy, bland veggies
or wash your hands and finish your homework – or some other routine
unpleasantry – "for your own good," and that's what I'm doing here.
Dark chocolate is healthy. It may be awful, terrible, and disgusting,
but it contains some really good things that have some remarkable
effects on various markers of health. So, yeah, eat your chocolate.
Finish your raw cacao powder. Choke down that homemade hot chocolate.
Hold your noses if you have to, but get it down and done.
of course. There's no arm twisting required when it comes to chocolate.
If there's one thing I know, it's that the Primal community can
suck down some high quality dark chocolate. Don't think I didn't
see how quickly that chocolate disappeared at last year's PrimalCon.
And why wouldn't it? Dark chocolate's great, the perfect storm of
flavor, flavonoids, and fat.
It tastes really good, comes loaded with polyphenols, and cocoa
butter is a great source of saturated and monounsaturated
fat. High-cacao dark chocolate, then, is quite literally a healthy
candy bar. What's not to love?
favorite dark chocolate in the past. I've even provided chocolate-choosing
tips. But until today, I've never really explained why we should
be including high-cacao dark chocolate in our diets. I've never
explicitly outlined the myriad health benefits that cacao offers.
Well, let's get to it, shall we?
contains healthy fats.
which is extracted from the cacao bean and incorporated into most
reputable dark chocolate bars, is mostly monounsaturated and saturated
fat, with very little polyunsaturated
fat. And because most of that saturated fat is stearic acid, widely
known for having neutral
effects on LDL, even avowed lipophobes can happily and heartily
gobble up cacao fat.
contains lots of polyphenols, particularly flavanols.
When it comes
to polyphenol content and antioxidant capacity, cacao trounces
the "superfruits" acai, pomegranate, cranberry, blueberry and whatever
else your annoying friend who always falls for multilevel marketing
schemes is hawking this week. The most studied polyphenol in cacao
is epicatechin, a flavanol. Although last week's post
on the benefits of polyphenol consumption centered on pigment-derived
antioxidants, cacao's polyphenols are also quite potent and potentially
when the rubber hits the road, though? Or, somewhat more literally,
what happens when the square of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate melts
on the tongue, is swallowed, digested, and incorporated into the
body? What are the actual health benefits of consuming high-cacao
content dark chocolate?
and blood pressure.
studies pretty consistently show that dark chocolate consumption
is related to lower
blood pressure readings. In Jordan,
Indians living in Panama, among pregnant
women, and among elderly Dutch,
this holds true. That's all well and good, but it's just an association.
We need controlled studies:
One found that
fifteen days of eating dark chocolate, but not white chocolate,
blood pressure (and improved insulin sensitivity) in healthy
subjects. The main difference between white and dark chocolate is
the polyphenol content; both types contain cocoa fat. Cocoa consumption
arterial flow in smokers.
suggest that the flavonoids are key. In one,
flavanol-rich dark chocolate consumption improved endothelial function
while increasing plasma levels of flavanols (which indicates the
flavanols had something to do with it). Another study
used flavanol-rich cocoa to increase nitric oxide production in
healthy humans, thus inducing vasodilation and improving endothelial
function. In another,
the highest dose of cacao flavanoids caused the biggest drop in
blood pressure. Still another found that while dark chocolate did
not reduce blood pressure, improve lipids, nor reduce oxidative
stress, it did improve
Or maybe it's
the soluble fiber. In "spontaneously hypertensive" rats, cacao-derived
soluble fiber lowered blood pressure, perhaps by reducing weight
both, in my opinion, although the polyphenols undoubtedly contribute
more to the cause than the five grams or so of soluble fiber you'll
get in the average serving of dark chocolate.
the rest of the article
February 23, 2012
© 2012 Mark's Daily Apple
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