Moderate chocolate intake could curb diabetes and heart disease risk
Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition gives us the green light to indulge in chocolatey goodness this holiday season. This cross sectional, observational study reviewed the diets of 1,153 people using a very specific food frequency questionnaire to suss out how many grams of chocolate they were consuming each day. On average, participants had 25g or about ¼ standard chocolate bar each day.
They found an inverse relationship between daily chocolate intake and liver enzymes and insulin levels. In other words, chocolate may be protective against insulin resistance, helping to diminish a well-established risk factor for cardiovascular disease. They saw the greatest insulin sensitivity in those that consumed 100g/day.
Chocolate is thought to have beneficial effects on heart health due to its polyphenol and flavonoid content. Cocoa is a more concentrated source of flavonoids per serving than other noted sources such as tea and red wine which are also rich in antioxidants. Remember that dark chocolate has more polyphenols and flavonoids than milk chocolate, and white “chocolate” has none! It’s just a blend of cocoa butter and sugar.
But beware! Before adding a full chocolate bar to your daily routine, think about your current diet. It’s recommended that no more than 10% of our daily calories come from foods high in sugar, fat and calories and low in nutrients, AKA discretionary calories. This means the average person consuming a 2000 calorie diet has a total of 200 calories for a splurge each day - but the average 100g chocolate bar has 556 calories! Adding that many additional calories to the diet would result in weight gain for most people and would add up to a lot of extra sugar and fat.
If you’re interested in the benefits that chocolate has to offer, try using cocoa powder more frequently in baking. Simply substitute a few tablespoons for flour in pancakes or add to a smoothie to get the benefits without the added calories from fat and sugar. The Cocoa Acai Bowl is one of our favorites!
Published November 1, 2017