Can you say… YUM?! The chia seeds in this recipe make the consistency of the yogurt/cottage cheese blend more of a pudding or mousse like consistency. Great when you are craving some chocolate or something sweet but don’t want to ruin your calorie intake! This is loaded with protein, prebiotics, omega-3s, and iron.
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
“Chocolate, minus the high-fat, sugary, creamy contents, may actually be good for heart health.”
A review from the article, “Mining the Riches of Dark Chocolate.” Densie Webb. Published in Today’s Dietitian, February 2012.
There are over 100 scientific articles published on the subject of chocolate and its association with heart health! Chocolate has a naturally occurring ingredient in it- flavanols. Flavanols are a phytochemical, or a chemical compound in plants that has a positive health benefit when consumed. Cocoa powder is one of the best sources of flavanols in our diet according to the USDA nutrient database!
There are 12 mg of flavanols per 1 oz of milk chocolate, while baking chocolate, which is made up of 100% cocoa, has 709 mg of flavanols per 1 oz!
What are the health benefits?
Cocoa has been shown to lower the risk of all cardiovascular/heart diseases. Studies also suggest that it may help to lower LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), while raise HDL cholesterol (the good one).
Other health benefits seen in studies involving cocoa:
- Lower risk of stroke.
- Lower risk of death from stroke.
- Small effect on lowering blood pressure if patient has high blood pressure/hypertension already.
- Reduces insulin resistance.
One interesting study performed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute Family Heart Study found that in 5,000 men and women, those who ate chocolate 5 times per week had 57% lower risk of coronary heart disease.
What chocolate is the best?
Another factor in the chocolate debate is the type of chocolate consumed. Milk chocolate is the most commonly consumed kind in the United Sates, but has much lower flavanol content than dark chocolate.
Flavanol content can also vary by the batch. Supposedly chocolate manufacturers can order cocoa from several countries and suppliers then combine them. The labeling of flavanols also isn’t regulated or required, but generally the greater percentage of cocoa solids in an item, the more bitter the taste, then the higher the flavanol levels. White chocolate is made from cocoa butter and contains zero flavanols.
What does this mean for you?
Remember, most chocolate products are high in fat, calories and sugar. These extra calories can add to weight gain. There also have been studies that are inconclusive, and show no heath benefits of cocoa. I however feel that there is more compelling research showing the benefits in favor of chocolate.
If chocolate is not a part of your diet already, I do not recommend adding it in. However, if you do like chocolate and regularly indulge, then choose dark chocolate that has higher amounts of cocoa solids. Some companies may list flavanols on the label, but many just list the percentage of cocoa solids (like 70 or 80%). The higher the better. Just remember there will be a more bitter taste the higher the percentage you choose.