reader from the "Show Me" state of Missouri writes:
"I always enjoy reading your articles in the Jefferson
City News Tribune, and I have a question that I hope you can
answer. I have read that dark chocolate is good for your
health, one of the reasons being due to the flavonoids. I have
also read that if chocolate is processed with alkali, it kills
or eliminates most of the flavonoids. Do you happen to know of
a company that does not process their dark chocolate with
alkali? Also, am I correct about this process? I would very
much appreciate your opinion on this matter.
are correct that dark chocolate contains flavonoids, a family
of polyphenols that protect our health, according to a review
by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These antioxidant
substances help to control inflammatory processes that
contribute to heart disease and diabetes. Because dark
chocolate has more cocoa and less sugar than milk chocolate,
it is a more potent source of these beneficial flavonoids.
that be great if we could improve our blood pressure, reduce
cholesterol and blood sugar by eating hot fudge sundaes every
day? But hold your Hershey’s. Those beneficial polyphenols
in cocoa are bitter and astringent to the taste buds. When
chocolate is processed to make it more wonderfully palatable,
some of those healthful components are lost.
processed cocoa, for example, is made with a potassium
(alkali) solution to neutralize its acidity. It can lose a
substantial amount of antioxidant-rich polyphenols during this
procedure. According to the Hershey Center for Health and
Nutrition, natural unsweetened cocoa powder can deliver up to
90 percent more antioxidants than Dutch-processed chocolate.
Cocoa beans can also lose some of their beneficial components
during normal roasting.
the most flavonoids from your chocolate hit, buy better
quality chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa solids, and
check the ingredient label. The US Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) requires chocolate products prepared with
alkalizing ingredients to bear the statement "processed
way, I was reminded by the Ghiradelli (pronounced "Gear-Ar-Delly")
folks in San Francisco that cocoa beans are not really beans.
They are seeds from a fruit that grows on a tree. Examples of
Ghiradelli products made without alkali include their
chocolate baking chips, 100% unsweetened cocoa, and Intense
Dark (86% cacao) bars and squares.
my opinion is this: Chocolate is a fun food, to be eaten
occasionally as a treat. Hurray for you if you enjoy the
darker, more bitter tasting varieties with higher amounts of
beneficial antioxidants. You won’t be killing yourself if
you eat a Dutch-processed chocolate on occasion either. You
are hopefully getting a host of flavonoids in your diet from
sources other than chocolate, such as vegetables and fruit.