Cocoa has also been shown to exert some positive effects on mood and symptoms of depression by reducing stress levels and improving calmness, contentment and overall psychological well-being.
While cocoa and dark chocolate consumption may be a good strategy in diminishing heart disease, hypertension, cancer, mood disorders and other age-related degenerative syndromes, not all cocoa and chocolate products are created equal.
The processing and heating of cocoa can cause the loss of its beneficial properties. Cocoa is often treated with alkaline to reduce bitterness—aka Dutch-process, which can result in more than a 60% decrease in flavanol content. Sugar or fat additives in the chocolate may also negate health benefits and instead induce adverse health effects associated with excess added sugars. Studies suggest cocoa products with a sugar content above 10 grams result in reduced protections than those with less than 10 grams.
Choosing the Right Chocolate
When picking out chocolate or cocoa product, look for non-alkalized cocoa powder or dark chocolate containing 70% or more cocoa if you want to maximize health benefits. Remember that chocolate still contains significant quantities of sugar and fats, so if you’re going to eat it, stick to reasonable portion sizes---no more than an ounce or so a day--- and follow a healthy balanced diet.
Craving chocolate? Try this quick & easy hot cocoa recipe:
2 cups low-fat milk (or your milk of choice)
2 Tbsp cocoa powder (not alkalized or Dutch)
2 Tbsp honey or pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Warm the milk in a small saucepan, but do not boil.
Whisk in the cocoa powder, honey or pure maple syrup, and vanilla extract.
Whisk well to remove any lumps from the cocoa or carefully use an immersible blender to both mix and make frothy!
Arranz, S., et al. (2013). Cardioprotective effects of cocoa: Clinical evidence from randomized clinical intervention trials in humans. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research,57(6), 936-947. doi:10.1002/mnfr.201200595
Zięba, K., et al. (2019). Cardioprotective Mechanisms of Cocoa. Journal of the American College of Nutrition,1-12. doi:10.1080/07315724.2018.1557087
These materials are provided to you by
Blythedale Children’s Hospital and Kohl’s Eat Well, Be Well Nutrition Outreach Program.
For more tips and information, please visit www.blythedale.org/kohls.
Blythedale Children's Hospital, through the generosity of Kohl’s Department Stores, is proud to offer Blythedale and Kohl's Eat Well, Be Well, an innovative outreach program designed to bring health and nutrition education to schools throughout Westchester and Putnam counties. Through this program, Blythedale staff members teach healthy eating habits to children by providing curricula, training and educational tools to school districts throughout the area. The program provides general nutrition guidelines to students, parents and school faculty. Blythedale Children's Hospital offers experts in nutrition and health-education to speak with local parenting groups, PTAs and school personnel.
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