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Dark chocolate for health anyone?

Just curious if any of you eat 1 oz of dark chocolate per day for your health and if so what brand and has your health improved at all? I read a few studies that recommended Dove dark chocolate just because the way they process it does not destroy the flavanoids. Thanks, Richie

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  1. What were the studies that recommended Dove? I'd love to read them too.

    2 Replies
    1. re: typetive

      I found them on yahoo health. One was from Prevention magazine.

      1. re: javaandjazz

        Ah, I found it. Thanks javaandjazz.

        I've read through this study and quite a few others. The research on that particular study was funded by Dove. (There are some others out of Europe that were funded by German chocolate companies and another that hasn't been published yet funded by Hershey's at Harvard.) Mostly the stuff that's good for you is terribly bitter (more evident in the Mars CocoaVia line).

        Basically, you have to eat very dark chocolate.

        However, as mentioned by Miss Needle, "Whatever flavanoids you will ingest will probably be offset by all the fat and sugar you consume." Cocoa butter in and of itself is neutral to your circulatory system (which is pretty rare in a fat) and has antioxidant properties that protect the nutritional profile of the chocolate itself.

        Very dark chocolate actually doesn't have that much sugar in it. I have a bar of Guittard's Nocturne (91% cacao) right here. There are 150 calories in a 1 ounce portion (half the bar) - 140 of those calories are from the cocoa butter! (So the net carbs are super low!) But hey, it also has 3.5 grams of fiber and 2.5 grams of protein too. (Very low glycemic index there.)

        Honestly, I wouldn't eat it specifically for the health benefits, but a little indulgence of a square a day along with a balanced diet can certainly be done. I'd certainly prefer it over a too-too-sweet cupcake.

        Personally, I don't care much for Dove. I think if you're gonna have some good chocolate, have some good chocolate. (Of course eat what you like ... don't let a bunch of internet people make you eat something because they think it's "better.") I think the little tasting kits of single origins can be fun. Michel Cluizel, Guittard, Lake Champlain & Dagoba all have nice versions.

    2. I would be very, very, very skeptical of any study that promotes a big name brand... that smells of grease money... and I know because I worked for a big ag company that has a very healthy juice on the market... and understand the ethical decisions behind sponsored studies. In any case... flavanoids aren't always destroyed by processing... in fact, processing often increases their concentration... wine is a good example of this.

      In terms of health benefits... well I feel really good consuming dark chocolate... for me its a soul food that connects me with my ancestral past. If you want some lore.... my great grandfather who died at 85 kept a number of concubines throughout his life... including a 45 year old one in his last days... and the local lore credits his well known virility with daily consumption of fresh ground xocolatl =)

      1 Reply
      1. re: Eat_Nopal

        That's very interesting, though I must say, if dark chocolate reminded me of my great-grandfathers virility, I probably would not enjoy it near as much =)

      2. I think that these studies are probably funded by Dove (or companies linked to Dove). Whatever flavanoids you will ingest will probably be offset by all the fat and sugar you consume. And realistically there won't be too many people who can limit their chocolate intake to 1 ounce per day.

        Anything in excess, no matter how good they sound, can be of detriment. You rarely hear of people condemning the wonder berry acai. I know three people who took acai extract every day for a few months and developed adverse symptoms such as night sweats and irritability only to have it stop when they discontinued it.

        1. I saw something about processing can destroy some of these beneficial flavanoids. I believe purpose of the processing was to remove some objectionable bitter tastes (which just happen to be the flavanoids!). I haven't eaten Dove recently. How does it compare with other dark chocolates in taste? Smoother, sharper?
          paulj

          1. I love the darkest chocolate you can find... at least 85% cocoa or higher. My husband/kids find it disgusting but I love it. I love the bitterness and the obvious lack of sugar in it. I love the way it crunches and takes forever to dissolve in your mouth... darker the better...

            3 Replies
            1. re: MeffaBabe

              You are a grownup, so you can enjoy the bitterness. :) Bet you take your coffee strong and black too. Probably also like your beer dark and hoppy.

              paulj

              1. re: paulj

                You are a seer my friend... black no sugar extra shot starbucks- becks dark (room temp even!)

            2. I would be extremely surprised if anyone could actually discern a difference in their health from eating dark chocolate. From what I've read, it's a cumulative, long-term effect in your overall health that it could benefit, not fix any one particular condition. However, I'm increasingly inclined to go with Michael Pollan's advice of not choosing foods for specific nutrients...you know...eat real food...etc.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Chowpatty

                I eat dark chocolate daily (though not an ounce. That sounds like a lot, actually. I eat maybe 1 or 2 smallish squares a day?), though I admit it's more b/c I'm addicted to it and probably use the health benefits as an excuse to justify my addiction. I like the bat bar produced by endangered species. I also like the Lindt 85% bar. I don't like Scharffenberger for some reason. Too bitter, but not in a good way.

              2. I think this is pretty informative.

                http://www.bravotv.com/blog/chocolate...

                I find it funny how Clay Gordon says that the more antioxidants there are in a chocolate the less flavor it has. So basically this Dove chocolate study is saying that Dove chocolate doesn't taste as good if you agree with Gordon.

                Gordon also goes to talk about how if you want to get the most antioxidant benefit from chocolate, you should eat the raw seeds. I went to a lecture with David Wolfe (the raw foods guy) who dipped raw cacao in honey. It really tasted disgusting. I will take my Valrhona chocolate any day. The thing is I would rather indulge in a small amount of tasty chocolate than eat raw cacao beans.

                In the Eastern medicine perpsective (at least in my view as people in this field will have different views), chocolate (cocoa) is not viewed in the best light. It has the same energetic properties as coffee and deep-fried foods, causing a lot of "heat" in your body that will lead to other health problems.

                14 Replies
                1. re: Miss Needle

                  Here is some info that cites research studies.... Chocolate was an important food in MesoAmerica where civilizations reached incredible rates of population density (for the time)... millions of intuitive people close to nature can't be wrong... it really can be part of a healthy diet and no it doesn't have to be consumed in extreme manners:

                  http://www.diabetesaction.org/site/Pa...

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    I'm wondering if the people of MesoAmerica had different biological make-ups than people of East Asian ancestry that would allow them to metabolize chocolate in a different way. For example, East Asians in general are lactose-intolerant while other cultures do not have the same issue.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      Two Points:

                      > I am currently writing an essay on Authentic Mexican cuisine... and in it I will devote a few paragraphs to the shocking simmilarities between Southern Mexican and Indian cuisines (which I consider to be Soul Mates)... among the many similarities... MesoAmerica's descendants also have principles about Hot & Cold foods (which have nothing to do with the foods temperatures as measured by Western metrics) similar to what you find in Ayurvedic medicine. Hence the proliferation of medicinal herbs & teas (if you have ever been to a Mexican market there are usually 3 dozen or so... if you ever go to an herbal shop in Mexico you will find well over 200)... to help rebalance that cold/hot profile etc.,

                      > Lactose-Intolerance based on Ethnicity / Large Populations (not individuals) is a myth. If you don't grow up consuming dairy... your body stops producing the enzymes that will digest lactose and so you become temporarily intolerant... but if you power through it... your body (usually) starts producing them again. There is substantial research to back this with studies in India (where there is a dairy culture in the North & West.. but not in the East) and in Latin America. In Mexico for example... the Mayo people (couisins of the Pimas in Arizona)... are split into two populations... a coastal which depends largely on Fishing & Horticulture... and a mountain group which depends on Farming & Dairy... and there is alot of marriage between these groups (so you basically have identical gene pools)... predictably... the coastal group reports lactose intolerance when they have traveled to other towns... while the mountain group doesn't have it in its lexicon.

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        I would be really interested to read your essay when you are finished with it. Please announce it somewhere on chowhound.

                        About the lactose-intolerance thing, I was born in America from parents of Korean descent. I grew up with a standard american diet, drank milk like there was no tomorrow and had a lot of problems digesting it. After formula, it was milk in a bottle, milk in juice glasses, milk in cereal, hamburgers with milk, milk at school, etc. I wasn't given alternatives because I grew up at a time where alternatives weren't popular and people weren't as hip to the lactose thing. In addition, at that time Koreans viewed America as a land of prosperity and wealth. So even though I had problems from drinking milk they just kept feeding that to me because that's what you do when you're in America so your kid will have the "best." Now many years later, I am able to tolerate dairy to a greater extent -- probably coming from what you're saying with the body producing the enzymes to digest lactose. However there are times when dairy will have me heading for the bathroom (generally I'm able to better tolerate eating dairy in the morning as opposed to late at night). And I know many Asian Americans with the same issue. So while I agree with you about the existence of environmental factors to this lactose debate, I do think there is a genetic component to this as well.

                        1. re: Miss Needle

                          I don't doubt your personal experience at all... but keep in mind that human milk has greater concentrations of lactose than cow milk... so unless people in Korea are given soy milk when they are first born the ability to produce the enzyme must be found in that gene pool as well...

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            I think a large problem with the reductionist view of nutrition is that people don't ingest things singularly. While there is lactose in human milk, there are other elements that may make it possible for lactose-intolerant infants to digest it. Perhaps the colostrum has something to do with it -- I don't know.

                            btw, according to the National Digestives Diseases Information Clearinghouse, up to 75% of African-Americans and Native Americans and 90% of Asian Americans are lactose intolerant. I'm sure that a great deal of them have been exposed to dairy, yet are still lactose intolerant. It's really difficult to avoid it in America (at least when I was growing up), especially if you went to public school.

                            1. re: Miss Needle

                              Actually, according to Harold McGee, the scientific explanation is that as babies, we have the capacity to digest lactose. The enzyme that digests lactose, lactase, is at highest levels after birth, but then slowly declines as our bodies become capable of digesting other kinds of food. This explains infants being able to digest human milk. It says that most adults lose the ability to produce this enzyme so lactose intolerance is more the rule than the exception. However, in parts of northern Europe and other regions, something happened to people's genetic code (mutation?) which made then capable of producing lactase for life. So 98 percent of Scandinavians are lactose tolerant, but less than half of southern Europeans are. McGee also says that even most non-lactase producing adults can tolerate about a cup of milk per day w/o adverse effects.

                              1. re: anzu

                                Thank you for this explanation. I've got to read my McGee books more often!

                                1. re: anzu

                                  "McGee also says that even most non-lactase producing adults can tolerate about a cup of milk per day w/o adverse effects."

                                  additionally, unless the individual is extremely sensitive or the condition is really severe, people who are lactose intolerant can also typically enjoy yogurt and cheese without much ill effect, as both products are much lower in lactose than milk.

                                  this information is common knowledge to practicing nutrition professionals like me, but unfortunately not to the general public. it's too bad, because there are so many people out there who avoid or restrict foods like cheese & yogurt for fear of suffering digestive upset, yet most of them would be able to indulge & enjoy without a problem.

                        2. re: Miss Needle

                          If I remember correctly from what I've read before, I think they drank it as a very bitter drink, without a lot of added milk or sugar. I could be remembering wrong, though.

                          1. re: spellweaver16

                            You are absolutely correct... it would have been 0 dairy... and just a touch of native honey (different bee than the now prevalent European bee).

                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                              Was cacoa widely consumed, or was it reserved for nobility?
                              paulj

                              1. re: paulj

                                It was commonly consumed in some regions (Tabasco, Highland Chiapas etc.,)... it was widely consumed for special occassions throughout Meso America (and used as currency as you might know)... and commonly consumed among the Noble, Priest & Warrior classes... as the 16th century approached... MesoAmerica had a population greater than 20 Million and production that was rather flat... so it became an increasinly scarce Elite item... but for about 30 centuries it was widely consumed in moderate amounts on pretty much a daily basis.

                          2. re: Miss Needle

                            If chocolate didn't appear in East Asian cultures until after Columbus, I wouldn't expect it to have a defined place in their medical knowledge. I'm not surprised that they would group it with coffee, largely by analogy, but I don't think one should read too much into that.

                            paulj

                      2. I have to be careful, because 1oz easily turns into a full-sized bar of chocolate. However, I am partial to Green and Black's organic dark chocolate (especially the Maya Gold and cherry dark choc). I am personally not crazy about Dove chocolate anyway, so wouldn't go out of my way to eat it.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: FoodieKat

                          Agree, dove is way low my dark chocolate nobility scale. I consume dark chocolate beacuse I love it and it makes me happy. Isn't that worth a notch up on the health scale?

                          1. re: chocchipcookie

                            Absolutely. If you're going to indulge, you might as well buy a good quality chocolate.

                            1. re: FoodieKat

                              And good chocolate makes me happy too. ;-)