Flavanols are what count if your looking for heart-healthy chocolates.
Just when we learned dark chocolate (which contains more cocoa than milk chocolate) may actually be good for us, it appears the rules have changed. The news was that dark chocolate contains many of the heart-healthy compounds found in red wine and green tea (flavanols that have aspirin-like qualities). And the advice was the darker, the more cocoa, the healthier.
But now we find out the amount of cocoa in a bar may be irrelevant as the flavanols are easily destroyed during processing. What counts is the number of flavanols maintained in the final product. As a result, some manufacturers are beginning to guarantee certain quantities of flavanols in chocolate. You may even begin to see these levels listed on the label instead of the percentage of cocoa that’s common now. The candymaker Mars even came out with a milk chocolate product that contains the same amount of flavanols found in dark chocolate—dispelling the belief that only dark chocolate provides these benefits.
The bottom line? Eat chocolate in moderation for comfort and cravings.
—Janet Helm, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant in Chicago