My parents went to the Steel Grass Chocolate Farm on Kauai during their Christmas vacation. When they got back my Dad shared a handout with me that he got there about dark chocolate. (Lucky them...it also involved taste testing tons of types of chocolate...yummmm!)
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
1. Cacao has one of the highest concentrations of antioxidants of any food.
Antioxidant levels are measured by Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC.)
Here's a list of ORAC levels (per roo grams) found in common foods and chocolate:
· broccoli - 890
· alfalfa sprouts - 930
· plums- 949
· Brussels sprouts - 980
· Raspberries - 1,22o
· spinach - 1,26o
· strawberries - 1,540
· kale - 1,77o
· blueberries - 2,400
· raisins - 2,830
· acai berries - 4,5oo
· prunes - 5,770
· milk chocolate - 6,740 *
· dark chocolate - 11,120
*The milk in milk chocolate blocks antioxidant absorption.
2. Dark chocolate contains significant amounts of minerals essential to
healthy metabolism such as Magnesium, Phosphorus, and Calcium.
3. The fat in better quality dark chocolate is cocoa butter, one of the components
of the cacao bean. Cocoa butter has a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels
because it consists mainly of stearic acid and oleic acid. Stearic acid is a saturated
fat but unlike most saturated fatty acids, it does not raise blood cholesterol. Oleic
acid, a monounsaturated fat, does not raise cholesterol and may even reduce it.
4. Chemicals in dark chocolate called theobromines act as mood-elevators,
and can produce a pleasurable sensation of alertness and well-being by boosting
serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain. Dark chocolate does contain caffeine,
but not much: you'd have to eat five average-size bars to ingest as much caffeine as
you get from a single cup of black coffee.