Over the past few years, cocoa has become known as a superfood with many, many health benefits. Now, as a chocoholic, I was more than pleased to discover that my favourite treat was also healthy, but I wanted to find out more. So I did some research, contacted chocolate suppliers and producers, searched the net and even asked a dietician friend. This is what I came up with. |
What’s in Our Favourite Bar?
The chocolate we eat is produced from cocoa which is an excellent source of iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and zinc. Other chemical compounds that occur naturally in the cocoa bean are procyanidin, epicatechin, flavonoids, catechins, procyanidins, and other antioxidants.
These usually won’t appear in the list of ingredients printed on the products we get from chocolate suppliers because they are not additives but a natural part of the cocoa bean.
Impressive Names. What do They Do?
Flavonoids do not refer to flavour. They refer to the pigmentations found in all fruits and vegetables which provide the plant protection from toxins in the air and ground and also help it repair cell damage. One of the things we are urged to do, as part of a healthy diet, is to eat different coloured fruit and vegetables. This isn’t for aesthetic reasons but because of the health benefits we gain from the various flavonoids found in what we eat. Cocoa liquor contains significant amounts of flavonoids including those known as flavanols, which studies have shown can improve vascular health.
Antioxidants, like flavonoids, occur naturally in plants and vegetables and include vitamins such as A (beta-carotene), C, E, and catechins. They are extremely effective in preventing and, to some extent, even repairing cell damage caused by free radicals found in our bodies and the environment. However, research suggests that the best way to increase your antioxidant levels is by eating foods that are naturally rich in them rather than taking supplements. So we come back to our favorite treat.
The Darker the Better
We all have a sweet tooth and one of our favourite confections that chocolate suppliers love to place on sweet shop shelves is creamy, decedent milk chocolate which has a lower percentage of cocoa solids than dark. However, if you want to get maximum health benefits, then darker is better!
It’s the cocoa solids that have all those flavonoids and antioxidants locked up in it. So, the higher the percentage of cocoa solids (60% is the minimum), the higher the levels of flavonoids and antioxidants.
In an increasingly health-conscious world, the demand for products with high percentages of cocoa solids (70%, 80%, and even 90%) is steadily increasing. Sweet shops and supermarkets are devoting shelf space and room for special displays to promote the many excellent brands on offer from chocolate suppliers.
So there you have it in a nutshell (a cocoa nut shell), why chocolate is more than just a sweet treat but also a health food – but, like anything, in moderation.
Angelina Moufftard works for hf Chocolates, established chocolate suppliers with decades of experience supplying sweets and high-end chocolates to retailers across the UK. Working with the most dedicated suppliers from France, Spain, Germany, Holland, Belgium, the USA and the UK, hf Chocolates' great tasting and beautifully packaged products add panache to any sweet display.
Related Articles -