The simple answer is, its just not that simple. Dark chocolate is being touted as the new superfood like Acai berries and pomegranate before it, packed with healthy chemicals like flavonoids and theobromine, this little bean is a disease-killing bullet. The only problem? Cacao on its own is bitter, chalky, nasty stuff.
Enter milk, sugar, and butter—good for your taste buds, not always good for your health. Besides adding calories, these can dilute the benefits of cacao. So snack smart: Stick to healthy chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao (the Hampton Chocolate Factory only uses 72%) (or cocoa, which is cacao in its roasted, ground form). As long as the content is that high, says Mary Engler, Ph.D., a professor of physiological nursing at the University of California at San Francisco, you can reap the benefits from eating only small amounts. Because of its high fat and sugar content, limit yourself to 7 ounces, or about four dark chocolate bars, a week. Yes this means you can have one Sweet & Salty bar, one PB&J, one Holy Mole with a kick, and one Mint Nib Crunch Bar every week, life just got sweeter!
Chocolate Is Linked to 40+ Health Benefits
In cse you were wondering, it’s not only your heart that might benefit from the compounds in cacao and cocoa powder. A wide range of accumulating scientific research has linked its consumption to over 40 distinct health benefits.8 While most of you have heard about the importance of antioxidants, a primer might help, beginning with the explanation that the formation of free radicals in your cells can damage your DNA to the point that your risk of developing diseases like Alzheimer’s, heart disease, and cancer are elevated.
This is why the antioxidant polyphenols in chocolate are so valuable, as they have the ability to stop free radical-mediated oxidation. This helps to decrease your risk of those and other diseases by directly interfering with one of the major preventable causes of chronic degenerative diseases.
Chocolate also contains other potent plant “chemicals,” including anandamide, named after the Sanskrit word for “bliss,” which is a neurotransmitter in the brain that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and anxiety. The caffeine and theobromine in chocolate have been shown to produce higher levels of physical energy and mental alertness, and there are likely many more healthy chocolate compounds that have yet to be discovered. The following table highlights just some of the benefits conferred by the cocoa bean.9
Anti-inflammatory Anti-carcinogenic Anti-thrombotic, including improving endothelial function Lowers Alzheimer's risk Anti-diabetic and anti-obesity Reduction in C-reactive protein Cardioprotective, including lowering blood pressure, improving lipid profile, and helping prevent atrial fibrillation Improved liver function for those with cirrhosis Neuroprotective Improves gastrointestinal flora Reduces stress hormones Reduces symptoms of glaucoma and cataracts Slows progression of periodontitis Improves exercise endurance May help extend lifespan Protects against preeclampsia in pregnant women
The Hampton Chocolate Factory only uses the finest and freshest ingredients in all its chocolates, always all natural, preservative free and kosher.