Over the past few years chocolate has garnered a lot of attention as a health food. Some people have even decided it’s a “super food”, capitalizing on a category that seems to encompass everything your grandmother told you to eat when you were growing up, along with some exotic Far Eastern fruits.
Well, recently chocolate scored again with an article about to be published in the British Medical Journal that explores chocolate as a therapy for people with metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a condition that has a couple of different definitions, depending on where you read about it, but one thing is agreed upon — it carries a high risk of heart disease and stroke.
It is also a very common condition in Western societies, encompassing insulin insensitivity, high triglycerides (blood fats), obesity in most cases, high blood pressure and, you guessed it, a total body inflammatory derailment. (OK, I added the last part that is not normally found in the official definitions, but it should be!).
Who would have ever thought that eating chocolate might help cure this kind of problem?
But there are of course some caveats.
First, it has to be dark chocolate and the darker the better, with at least 60-70% cacao content. Keep the sugar to a minimum — something that is hard for Western Chocolatier’s to do. If you’ve ever experienced anything cacao- derived in its native form, including chocolate, you will know it’s anything but sweet!
Another thing that helps is when the chocolate is enriched by polyphenols. This is the reason one of the few things we carry, that I do not make personally, is Xocai chocolate. Xocai keeps the sugar down and adds tons of berry-derived polyphenols.
So how good is chocolate at preventing heart disease, or mitigating its effects? Well, an estimated 70 people out of every 10,000 would avoid fatal heart attack or stroke, which puts it up there with the best ‘preventative’ drugs! Now what about dose? Well, that is based on total polyphenols content, not actual amounts of chocolate. If you are using Xocai, that means somewhere between 1 to 3 pieces a day. Other chocolates may vary in cacao content and polyphenols content, so do some research.
As far as weight gain, again, if you use Xocai, you will be consuming between 100 and 300 calories a day above what you get without it.
Now, I have to be honest. I don’t eat the stuff for its heart or vascular benefits and I don’t eat it every day either. I have fish oil, Co Q, TA-65 , Carnosine and a whole host of other self-made supplements I use for my anti-aging program.
Still, it’s nice to have a treat that may actually help you!