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Dark Chocolate PDF Print E-mail
Written by Alan Goldhamer, D.C. & Joel Fuhrman, M.D.   
Thursday, 28 June 2007 12:44

I have heard that dark chocolate lowers blood pressure. Is there anything in dark chocolate that we can't get in fruits and vegetables?

As my colleague John McDougall often says, “People like to hear good news about their bad habits.” I would not recommend the use of chocolate, of any shade, and especially not as a treatment for high blood pressure. There are many things that are found in chocolate, not generally found in fruits and vegetables, and most of them are health compromising. The fact that a few antioxidants or other nutrients have not been completed processed out of a food (or alcoholic drink) does not give justification for recommending its consumption. Alan Goldhamer, D.C.

In recent years, cocoa has attracted the attention of food scientists because of its extremely high antioxidant levels. Spurred by the latest studies that show the health benefits of antioxidants found in green tea and red wine, food scientists discovered similar compounds in cacao beans. Curious about the antioxidant content of cocoa compared to wine and tea, Cornell University food scientists tested the antioxidant content of each of the following three beverages: a cup of hot water containing two tablespoons of pure cocoa powder, a cup of water containing a standard size bag of green tea, a cup of black tea, and one glass of California Merlot (red wine). On a per serving basis, the antioxidant concentration in cocoa was the highest: almost two times stronger than red wine, 2-3 times stronger than green tea, and 4-5 times stronger than that of black tea. Cocoa contains only a very small amount of caffeine. It does however contain theobromine. Theobromine has stimulant properties but it is much milder compared to caffeine and has a mood improving effect. The low levels in cocoa have not shown any harmful effects, but can be toxic to dogs because they cannot break down and eliminate theobromine like humans can. No matter what you hear in the media, eating dark chocolate with lots of added sugar and saturated fat and other candy bar chemicals can’t be good for you, no matter how many anti-oxidants are in the chocolate. While unprocessed, unsweetened chocolate should not be considered a food that should be consumed in large amounts because of the theobromine, using a small amount of natural cocoa, on occasions to flavor desserts, green smoothies, and in your gourmet healthy cooking, can actually add some beneficial nutrients as well as make your family more enjoy eating healthfully, adding to the nutritional quality of their diet.

Joel Fuhrman, M.D.


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