You may have heard that chocolate is ‘good for you,’ and wondered if it was true. Well, the answer is both yes and no. When it comes to the excellent health benefits that come from the 100 percent cacao bean – the scientific evidence couldn’t be stronger in its favor. 100 percent cacao protects against everything from high blood pressure to heart disease and it’s full of antioxidants. The problem comes in when chocolate makers pack their chocolate with sugar, soy lecithin, dairy and other ingredients that not only have negative health effects, but also negatively impact the positive benefits of the 100 percent cacao. In short, dark chocolate (the darker the better!) is great for you and milk and white chocolates are just candy. That’s why our paleo protein brownies are made using exclusively 100 percent cacao dark chocolate pieces – with no sub-ingredients at all. Here's a breakdown of the science behind the cacao bean:
The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that 100 percent cacao is absolutely packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants bind to what are known as ‘free radicals,’ destructive molecules that are implicated in heart disease and other ailments, and decommission them. "Our findings indicate that milk may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate,” reads the AMA research, “And may therefore negate the potential health benefits that can be derived from eating chocolate." The proof is in this study: a group of test subjects were given a 100 gram chocolate bar every day, but the contents of the chocolate varied. On different days they each ate either 100 grams of dark chocolate by itself, 100 grams of dark chocolate with a small glass of whole milk, or 200 grams of milk chocolate by itself. Afterwards, the scientists measured the amount of antioxidants in their blood. Those who ate the dark chocolate alone had the most total antioxidants. And they had higher levels of epicatechin, a particularly healthy compound that is found in 100 percent cacao. The milk chocolate eaters had the lowest epicatechin levels of all.
In one excellent study, subjects with high blood pressure were broken into two groups. Every day for two weeks, they all got a 100-gram chocolate bar (lucky test subjects!) Half the patients got dark chocolate and half got white chocolate. Those who ate dark chocolate had a significant drop in blood pressure (by an average of 5 points for systolic and an average of 2 points for diastolic blood pressure). Those who ate white chocolate saw no benefits.