Understanding Chocolate

Dr. Jerry Gore Jerry Gore, M.D. September 9, 2013

Do you like chocolate?

If so, then you will be interested to know:

Chocolate is great partly because of the flavonoid content. Flavinols are phytochemicals also found in red wine, fruits, vegetables and teas that help prevent death from cardiovascular disease. Please understand what you are eating because all chocolate products are not equal!

The evergreen tree, Theobroma Cacao, yields its bitter seeds, which are then dried, fermented, roasted and de-shelled. This yields “cacao nibs”.  These nibs are further reduced to cocoa solids and cocoa butter. So far so good, but they taste bitter while retaining their flavanols and health potential. Now comes the processing part using sweets, oils fats, dairy and whatever else (read the label). It’s tricky. For example, white chocolate, full of cocoa butter and high in flavinols can be processed in such a way as to turn it dark yet reduce its flavonoid content. Therefore, the darkness of the chocolate may not be related to the flavinol content and not as healthy! If you want health in addition to taste, you have to buy a product with as many milligrams of flavonoid content as possible. This means using the raw cacao or products less processed or products listing their flavonoid content. For those of you who like to experiment, try mixing cocoa nibs or raw cocoa powder in a smoothie sweetened with coconut juice or maple sugar or agave or stevia.  Other ideas? We are always looking for good chocolate recipes to pass along to our patients that combine taste with good health.

All the best
Jerry Gore, MD