We’ve all heard that chocolate — especially the darker kind — is good for us, but do we really know why or how it’s good for us?
We hadn’t thought about the health benefits of chocolate much either — we just know it tastes deeeelish!! — that is until we came across this ad for CocoaVia® – a daily cocoa extract supplement – in a recent issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.
Wow! Double Bonus! Consume cocoa and feel younger and support healthy circulation! Chocolate rules!
All this sounds great to us — especially the “supports healthy circulation” — and that’s what got us investigating this chocolate hype further.
So why is chocolate getting so much good press?
Turns out, chocolate – especially dark chocolate – has been getting a lot of media attention because of its health benefits — its vein- and artery-loving and strengthening cocoa flavonoids to be exact. (What are cocoa flavonoids?)
We could dive into a serious chemistry discussion here when we talk about flavonoids (which were known way back in the day as Vitamin P), but we’ll keep it straightforward and give you the quick facts: Flavonoids are plant-based compounds that contain a rock-star lineup of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These two “antis” help keep our veins and entire circulatory system strong and functioning properly. And lucky for us, cocoa beans are nature’s most flavonoid-rich product.
Darker doesn’t always mean healthier.
A lot of the chocolate we like – milk chocolate, white chocolate, even some darks – lose a good chunk of their flavonoid superpowers during processing. Cocoa beans are processed so much because they are quite pungent and bitter tasting. According to the Cleveland Clinic, chocolate companies knock out the bitterness by fermenting, alkalizing, roasting, etc. the cocoa beans. The addition of sugar, milk, and oil dial down the health benefits even further.
250 is a magic number.
The makers of CocoaVia — Mars Botanical, the scientific division of Mars – have harnessed and retained the power of the cocoa flavonols with its scientifically proven Cocoapro® process. It’s a process that guarantees 250 mg of cocoa flavonols are delivered to each CocoaVia product. Products are available in capsule or powdered stick form. We’re taste-test-driving some of the CocoaVia recipes right now and will report back later this month what the Hamilton Vein team thinks!
Cocoa powder’s favorite cousin.
Raw chocolate also ranks high in flavonol content. That’s why Dr. Ben Kim recommends that you reach for raw, organic chocolate without any added ingredients instead of your usual chocolate bar fave. You’ll not only save on calories and fat, you’re doing your veins and arteries a much better favor when you go raw.
It’s okay to be loco for cocoa – in moderation, of course!
Remember, as with all things, moderation is key. CocoaVia products are low in calories and fat so you can indulge more with those, but a 1 oz. serving a few times a week of high-cocoa content chocolate is okay too. There are other great vein-healthy, circulation-boosting foods and drinks to get your daily flavonol fix, like red wine, onions and cherries.
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