Chocolate Health

Chocolate. A guilty pleasure of human beings. But now, with new research coming out, do we really have to be that guilty when eating it? New research claims that chocolate (more specifically dark chocolate) can actually be good for you. How might chocolate be good for you?

Chocolate contains cocoa powder which contains compounds called flavanols. Flavanols are believed to positively impact human health. The right amount of routine consumption, approximately 750 mg of flavanols a day, will reduce disease, as well as dementia.

Something seems too good to be true here– And indeed it is too good to be true! These scientific studies conducted [by the corporations] have failed to provide a direct link between chocolate consumption and increased health benefits.

There are two major issues to understand here. The first one being that most chocolate isn’t mostly cocoa powder. Cocoa Powder is just a fraction of the recipe. That means that when you eat chocolate, you are not consuming enough flavanols (750 mg) to provide the benefits. To get the benefits of flavanols, you have to eat more chocolate to get more flavonols. Then, by that point, the sugar outweighs the benefits of the flavanols.

The second major issue to understand here is that in the refinement process of cocoa beans into cocoa powder many flavanols are lost. This is because many chemicals are used that get rid of many of the flavanols. Together, with this and the chocolate bar not being completely made of cocoa powder, results in it being unhealthy (the flavanols are outmatched by the sugar and other chemicals). For your typical candy milk chocolate bar, in order to get 750 mg of flavanols  you would have to eat tens of thousands of calories worth of chocolate candy bars every day.

So what about dark chocolate? Isn’t it healthier in higher percentages? In some cases, yes, it is a little bit healthy (not significant though), but for the most part, no. Dark chocolate is composed of cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar (sometimes), and other ingredients. Still, it is not mostly composed of cocoa powder, so a lot of it would have to be consumed in order to get the beneficial 750 mg of flavanols. Though, dark chocolate does have a reasonably larger amount of flavanols than typical candy chocolate.

Another reason why dark chocolate doesn’t contain enough flavanols is that most dark chocolate is not 100% dark chocolate. This is because some percent of the chocolate will be milk chocolate (to improve the flavor), and the remainder will be dark chocolate (keep in mind this is since dark chocolate has more flavanols than candy chocolate). Since most dark chocolate bars are not even 100% dark chocolate, there would be less flavanols present, causing you to have to consume more chocolate. Even with very dark chocolate (assuming we aren’t going to be eating 90-100% dark chocolate), you would still have to consume 1000+ calories of it in order to get 750 mg of flavanols, which will give you the benefits (but eating 1000+ calories isn’t beneficial).

It isn’t all bad news. There is a way to get the recommended amount of flavanols. There is a brand called “CocoaVia.” CocoaVia products are cocoa powder products, which can come in packets or capsules. Eating two capsules a day should get you 750 mg of flavanols, and, therefore, provide the benefits. For the packets, eating the equivalent of two servings should also provide you the 750 mg of flavanols.

Overall, in general, chocolate is not as healthy as it is portrayed to be, and it likely never will be healthy, either. Though, as we have seen, CocoaVia took a different spin with the usage of cocoa beans, to have actual health benefit.