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Pauline L BS: Chocolate... (51* d) RE: BS: Chocolate... 05 Nov 06

Once again, scientists and manufacturers of fine food have joined forces to substantiate my deeply rooted conviction that chocolate is good for you.

Dark chocolate is rich in flavanols, a class of antioxidants, which, we all know, prevent all kinds of horrible things from happening to our bodies. Mars (the company, not the ex-planet) has developed a method of processing cocoa beans which preserves the flavanols. This cocoa is bitter tasting, so Mars sweetens it (never mind the calories). Products produced this way bear the trademark "Cocoapro."   Snack bars made by this process are now on the market under the name Cocoavia.   

Here is the article.

An Affair of the Heart

Nothing beats a good piece of chocolate. It’s rich, smooth, creamy and makes us feel good, until the guilt sets in. Chocolate’s mood-enhancing qualities are an obvious reason why it is so strongly associated with Valentine’s Day, as a gift for lovers and loved ones.

Chocolate's Dark Secret

There’s no getting around the fact that chocolate is a high fat food. But there is growing evidence that, in small quantities, some kinds of chocolate may actually be good for you. Dark chocolate is naturally rich in flavonoids (or more specifically, flavanols, a sub-class of these antioxidants). These compounds are thought to lower blood pressure and help protect against heart disease"among other things. Recent studies conducted both in the U.S. and Europe seem to support chocolate’s beneficial effects on the cardiovascular system, encouraging at least one chocolate manufacturer"Mars"to develop a proprietary method of processing cocoa beans, aimed specifically at preserving flavonoid content.

Traditional roasting and fermentation methods are thought to destroy up to three-quarters of these compounds. Mars now puts its Cocoapro trademark on some of its products, indicating the use of this method.
What about the Fat?
It’s still hard to think of chocolate as a health food. Part of the allure is the guilty pleasure of eating it. But before we raid the candy store, it’s worth remembering that chocolate is not a low calorie food. A serving size of Dove dark chocolate (40 grams) contains 210 calories and 13 grams of fat, 8 of which are saturated, although some of this saturated fat is in the form of stearic acid, which is converted by the liver into a “healthier” monounsaturated fat.

Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder, which is low fat, would surely be a healthier way to get both our chocolate fix and our dose of flavanols. Alkalizing cocoa (or Dutch processing) produces a milder flavor and darker color but destroys most of the flavonoids. Since flavanol-rich cocoa is naturally bitter, Mars has worked hard to make it palatable. It sells a flavanol-rich series of snack bars and small chocolate bars. CocoaVia snack bars are available online and also in stores such as Target, Walgreens, and Fred Meyer. With all the work that Mars seems to be doing, we will likely see a drinkable high-flavanol cocoa powder at some point, which would offer chocoholics a healthy, low fat alternative to high fat chocolate bars.
In the meantime, we should probably allow ourselves an occasional ounce of dark chocolate, and savor it. Our hearts might thank us.

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