In case you needed a reason to indulge yourself...Studies have shown that chocolate is high in antioxidants and may reduce cholesterol and one’s risk for heart disease:
“A 3 ½ oz dark chocolate bar contains the following percentages of your daily mineral requirements:
“In a US Department of Agriculture list of high-antioxidant foods, dark chocolate actually comes out on top—with
13, 120 ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) units, nearly twice the antioxidants in milk chocolate, and
more than double the ORAC units in the next best thing, the humble prune! These antioxidants are like a troop of bomb disposal experts, whose job it is to diffuse the free radicals that cause premature ageing and destruction in the body’s cells.
Not only does chocolate contain high concentrations of antioxidants, it contains the highest quality of the lot—the same flavonoids (polyphenol antioxidants that are 100 times stronger than Vitamin C) as red wine and green tea (credited with reducing heart attack risk and cancer), of which one, proanthocyanidin, is one of the few compounds that can cross the blood-brain barrier to protect brain tissue. The same compound also blocks the formation of enzymes in the body that cause inflammation and arthritis; and it acts as an antihistamine to protect against allergies.
A cup of hot cocoa (made with cocoa powder) has twice as many healthy antioxidants as a glass of red win and four times more than a cup of green tea, according to a study (hyperlink to: Cocoa Has More Phenolic Phytochemicals and a Higher Antioxidant Capacity than Teas and Red Wine.pdf?) at Cornell University in 2003!”
“Cocoa butter—the fat that occurs naturally in cocoa beans—contains a lot of fat. The good news is that it is ‘good’ fat, as is found in olive oil. Typically, there’s 1 ½ oz of fat in a 3 ½ oz 72% bar of dark chocolate. Of this, ¼ oz will be saturated fat. But the 1/5 oz of unsaturated fat are composed of oleic acid, which raises HDL cholesterol (the type that helps to protect your heart) and lowers levels of unhealthy LDL cholesterol. Of the saturated fat, more than half is composed of stearic acid, a fatty acid that is converted by the liver to more healthy oleic acid.”*
*—The Chocolate Connoisseur, by Chloé Doutre-Rousse