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Cross over to the dark side
We’ve all heard the warnings about steering clear of sugary products and sales of chocolate have declined somewhat over the last few years accordingly; but not when it comes to dark chocolate. Our love affair with the dark stuff is still going strong – helped in no small part by its healthy attributes.
Earlier this year, Portuguese researchers reported in the journal Nutrition that eating a few squares of 90 per cent cocoa dark chocolate every day could lower blood pressure. This is nothing new, as far back as the 1990’s researchers studying the diet of Panama’s Kuna Indians found them to have better blood pressure as well as lower rates of stroke, cancer and diabetes. The link between these conditions was that they regularly ate cocoa beans with their all important flavanol content.
Processing cocoa beans can, however, damage the levels of flavanol’s from around 10 percent to as low as 0.001 percent in some cases. Medical researchers have also concluded that the darker the chocolate doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re getting more of the flavanols. Recently they tested 41 different commercial brands and found very little difference between each of them. They decided that the health benefits come down to what else is in the bar of chocolate; principally being sugar.
Dr Karin Reid of the National Institute of Integrative Medicine in Melbourne stated: “With darker chocolate I’d recommend 75 percent cocoa solids and up – you also have a higher amount of nutrients such as magnesium (for healthy muscles and nerves), zinc (for a healthy immune system), and iron ( to make red blood cells), as well as a little fibre.