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TEXARKANA, Ark. –
I will admit it, I am a chocoholic. Luckily for me, evidence suggests that modest
consumption of dark chocolate or cocoa is associated with health benefits in the form
of reduced cardiovascular disease risk. This is great news for us chocolate lovers.
The bad news is, you cannot eat all you want of it. Positive health benefits need
to be balanced with calories.
Scientists aren’t sure why chocolate seems to boost heart health. It could be the
flavonoids, a type of antioxidant produced by plants. Flavonoids are found in tea,
red wine, blueberries, apples, pears, cherries, and nuts.
Flavonoids are particularly abundant in cacao beans, the seeds of the cacao tree.
Fermenting, drying, and roasting cacao beans yields cocoa powder, which is used to
Research shows that flavonoids in cocoa help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow
to the brain and heart, prevent blood clots, and fight cell damage. They also may
help with cognitive thinking.
Chocolate is available in many types; however, they don’t all carry the same health
benefits. Some chocolates are healthier than others. As a rule, the more processed
it is, the less health benefits it will have.
Your best bet is to stick with dark chocolate. Generally, it has more cocoa and therefore
more flavonoids than milk chocolate. It also has less unhealthy sugar and saturated
fat, something we all need to watch.
Dark chocolates seem to have the highest level of flavonoids, because they have gone
through fewer processing steps. On the other hand, milk chocolate has been processed
many times and therefore many of the flavonoids are missing.
Research shows that dark chocolate is loaded with organic compounds that are biologically
active and function as antioxidants. Antioxidants are important in that they cause
your blood vessels to dilate and help to increase circulation. This in turn increases
the amount of blood that travels throughout your body.
This doesn’t give you permission to consume all the dark chocolate you want. Regardless
if it is dark or milk chocolate, there is still fat found in chocolate. The fat in
dark chocolate has equal amounts of monounsaturated fat, the heart healthy fat, and
saturated fat, the fat we want to avoid.
In fact, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference,
1 dark chocolate candy bar contains 5 grams total fat, 8 grams sugar, 85 milligrams
potassium, and 90 calories.
So for now, enjoy moderate portions of chocolate a few times per week, but don’t forget
to eat other flavonoid-rich foods, such as apples, tea, onions and cranberries. Of
course, moderation is key. We still should consume chocolate in small amounts and
balance it with healthy foods.
This Chocolate Angel Food Cake from The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension
is light, easy to make and is low in calories, fat, cholesterol and sodium. Serve
it with a dollop of whipped cream and garnished with fresh strawberries, raspberries
and blueberries for a healthy desert.
1 box (14.5 ounce angel food cake mix)
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
1/4 tsp. chocolate flavoring
1 cup skim milk
1 4-serving box sugar-free instant chocolate pudding
8 ounce light whipped topping substitute
In a large bowl, combine flour packet of cake with the cocoa. Prepare cake according
to package directions; fold in chocolate flavoring. Bake cake in a tube pan according
to package directions. When cool, remove the pan. In a medium-sized bowl, blend milk
and instant pudding with mixer for one to two minutes. Fold in whipped topping substitute.
Spread on cooled cake before cutting. Garnish with fresh fruit if desired.
Yield: 12 servings
Nutritional Information: Serving size - 1/12 of cake. Calories 205, Protein 6g, Fat
5g, Cholesterol1mg, Carbohydrate 40g, Sodium 202mg, Fiber1g
For more information, contact the Miller County Extension Office, 870-779-3609 or
visit us in room 215 at the Miller County Courthouse. We're online at firstname.lastname@example.org,
on Facebook at UAEXMillerCountyFCS/CarlaDue, on Twitter @MillerCountyFCS or on the
web at uaex.uada.edu/Miller.
By Carla Haley-Hadley County Extension Agent - FCSThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Carla Haley-Hadley County Extension Agent - FCSU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service400 Laurel Street, Suite 215 Texarkana AR 71854 (870) 779-3609 email@example.com
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
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