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{NATURAL HEALTH}

How Much Chocolate is too much Chocolate?

By Joseph Mercola

Few foods evoke as much passion as chocolate. And for chocolate lovers, the idea of giving it up altogether, even if it means being healthier, is often not an option to consider. Well, this is one instance when you can have your chocolate and eat it too, because study after study is confirming that chocolate is actually very good for you.

But there are some ground rules.

First, ONLY dark chocolate is healthy. Not milk chocolate, not white chocolate and not any combination in between.

Dark chocolate contains flavonols, which have antioxidant properties that can help protect your body from damaging oxidative stress, and there’s evidence that consumption of dark chocolate can improve your:

The milk added to milk chocolate, meanwhile, interferes with your body’s ability to absorb the beneficial antioxidants in the chocolate (and for those who don’t know, white chocolate actually contains no cocoa at all, it’s just a health-zapping mix of pasteurized milk and sugar).

Epicatechin, a compound found in unrefined cocoa, is another one of the powerhouse compounds that makes dark chocolate good for you, according to Norman Hollenberg, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who has spent years studying the effects of routine cocoa drinking on the Kuna people of Panama. The Kuna, who drink up to 40 cups of cocoa a week, have a less than 10 percent risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes.

Unfortunately, epicatechin is removed from commercial cocoas because it tends to have a bitter taste.

How to Use Chocolate as a Health Tool

Chocolate is a perfect example of when less is more. Researchers found that eating a precise amount of chocolate — 6.7 grams a day — will give you the best health benefits. Eat any more than this and the beneficial effects will diminish and even disappear.

6.7 grams of chocolate amounts to one small square of chocolate two or three times a week, so we’re talking about a very moderate amount here if you’re using chocolate for health purposes.

Keep in mind, too, that chocolate really needs to be high quality and minimally processed to be healthy. Look for varieties that use the least destructive processing techniques and preserve the highest levels of the beneficial polyphenolic bioflavanoids that are naturally present in cocoa.

Generally speaking, dark, organic chocolate contains the most flavonols, but the best choice would be raw cacao, which is relatively bitter because it doesn’t have sugar in it.

If you opt for most commercial, processed chocolate (much of which has added soybean oils, sugar and other unsavory ingredients), don’t expect it to be healthy. In fact, some processed chocolate can be contaminated with extremely high quantities of lead, which is something to consider when you’re deciding what to hand out this year for Halloween.

Finally, if you are struggling with serious disease of any kind (diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, cancer, etc.) you should hold off on eating chocolate, as most all of it contains a lot of sugar, and sugar depresses your immune system.

For those of you who have chocolate cravings that feel out of control, you’re most likely not eating the correct balance of protein, fats, and carbohydrates for your nutritional type. And once you get most of the sugar out of your diet your desire for commercially made sweets, including chocolate, will change dramatically.

If you tend to crave chocolate when you are upset, bored, or lonely, then you could benefit from resolving these underlying emotional issues (and we all have them) that are driving you to seek comfort from chocolate.

In 1997 I started my web site, Mercola.com, that is now the most visited natural health site in the world. By 2006 we had over 800,000 subscribers and over 5 million page views every month. I created this site with no outside investors or advertising

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COMMENTS - 8 Responses

  1. Some people may crave chocolate because they are low in magnesium.

  2. Is it the sugar and fat that makes most chocolate bad? What if you could have good tasting chocolate, but leave the epicatechins in?

  3. The sugar but not the fat. Cocoa Butter is saturated like coconut oil so less likely to be rancid. It has some very Nourishing fatty acids that heal the bowel and fight cancer. It’s the milk powder and vegetable fats in common chocolate that cause problems. Having said that, Organic Times rapadura chocolate have milk powder that is dried at such a low temperature, it is still food. The only prob with eating the milk chocolate variety is that the milk counteracts the anti-oxidant effects (as Mercola says). Chocolate is not a food. It is an occasional indulgence still but you don’t have to harm yourself to have a bit of chocolate luxury. Check out Loving Earth Chocolate. mmmmmm.

  4. I’ve been playing with making my own chocolate.. Raw cocoa butter, raw cacao powder, palm sugar/agave syrup, and a dash of nutmet, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne, raw milk and lecithin. Sometimes I add some goji berries into the mix. Its incredibly delicious, and a lot cheaper than buying ‘free trade/organic/sugar free’ etc.

  5. 5. Francis Mendoza
    Oct 14th, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    nice article! very informative and specific ideas are very well explained and elaborated!

  6. THIS IS AMAZING. MY FAT OBEAST SISTER IS UPSET OVVER ME READING THIS ALOUD. SHE IS REALLY BUGGING THE HELL OUT OF ME SOO IM PUTTING THIS UP SOO SSSHEE CAN GET A GLIMSE OF HER CHOCOLATES.

  7. 7. Crickett Heassler
    Jul 16th, 2011 at 3:28 am

    The article is very informative,but what I want to know is am I harming myself if I drink chocolate (bakers) 2-3 times daily with soy? I actually feel better when I drink this I add cinnamon and honey and cruchy peanut butter. I am thin and watch my weight, so aside from the weight factor, what should I watch for? I have ylow blood pressure by the way.

  8. No one can tell you if you are harming yourself. The key word there is “yourself” If you feel better when you drink it the chocolate is probably okay for you. The studies show, for many people, that they do feel better when they have high antioxidant chocolate regularly, but there are exceptions. Soy is probably a bigger problem than the chocolate for many people. (if that’s you, try almond milk - they now have a dark chocolate version that’s quite tasty)
    Cinnamon hasd good antioxidants and even honey can be good for you, much better than processed sugar, for sure. And peanut butter can be good, too. Just look for a peanut butter with no hydrogenated fats and no added sugar.

    I don’t know that I agree 100% with this article, although it is quite good. There are newer studies out that show high antioxidant diets (with larger quantities of chocolate - 3, 5 or even more ounces of chocolate taken through out the day, regularly, can help with many health issues people have today. There may even be some indication that it could help with anti-aging. But it has to be high antioxidant chocolate, high in flavanols. That is not what you find on the shelf of most grocers.

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