Chocolate Contains Healthy Antioxidants
Chocolate lovers can take heart in the growing body of research that shows this favorite food is packed with high-quality polyphenol antioxidants- beneficial compounds similar to those found in fruits, vegetables and red wine that scientists say may reduce the risk for developing heart disease, as well as offer some anti-aging health benefits. Antioxidants in the blood stream essentially mop up substances called free radicals, small reactive molecules that cause damage to the body, which scientists believe may be the triggers for serious diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
They also may be related to cognitive deterioration that comes with aging.Research conducted over the past three years at the University of Scranton demonstrated that the quality and quantity of the antioxidants in chocolate are very high relative to other common foods and beverages such as black tea, red wine, raisins, strawberries, pinto beans and other plant products. Cocoa powder ranked the highest of the chocolate products, followed by dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Dark chocolate contained about eight times the polyphenol antioxidants as strawberries, which rank high among fruits. Most recently studies indicate chocolate’s polyphenols are not only absorbed in the bloodstream, they also may have some positive health affects. The study also yielded exciting results regarding chocolate’s effect on blood cholesterol levels.“The results for subjects consuming the dark chocolate and cocoa powder showed that the increased antioxidant levels protected the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) from being oxidized. This is important because it is what starts the process of arteriosclerosis. In addition, HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) levels were increased. Both of these findings are associated with a decreased risk of heart disease,” explained Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., professor of nutrition at The Pennsylvania State University and author of a new study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.