Who knew, the low-maintenance ingredient: unsweetened cocoa powder could be such an inexpensive, delicious way to improve your heart health? More than 250 studies have shown that natural cocoa and dark chocolate may have properties that protect the tickers that protect us.
Love Your Heart With Chocolate
Chocolate contains a plant nutrient called flavonoids, which have been shown to lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, and reduce blood clots. Research shows that it takes about 200 mg of flavonols to improve blood flow. To reap the blood flow benefits you would need to eat:
- 2 T. of non-alkalized (or non-dutch processed) cocoa powder = 25 calories
- ~1.75 oz. of 70-85% cacao dark chocolate = 300 calories
- ~10.5 oz. of milk chocolate = 1500 calories
Which chocolate form is best?
You’ll get the most bang for your calorie buck in the powdered form. Look for (non-alkalized) natural cocoa powder. The processing of alkalized or dutch-processed cocoa significantly reduces the flavanol content. Stir cocoa is to stir cocoa powder into oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, chili, or into baked goods.
What If I Prefer Biting Into a Bar?
If you enjoy biting into a bar – select dark chocolate, but melt away the myth that ALL dark chocolate is equal. Sugar is often the first ingredient in many dark chocolate bars. As a daily chocolate consumer, I have found only a few brands in which “cocoa solids” is the first ingredient. Cocoa solids contain the desirable flavonals, and should hold the #1 spot on the ingredient list.A good rule of thumb is at least 70% cocoa solids, which comes with a slightly bitter taste. You can train your taste buds overtime to enjoy this less sweet flavor!