Have you had your flavonoids today? Once you know the benefits of what was once called Vitamin P, you’ll be asking yourself this daily! Derived from natural sources, flavonoids help protect plants by shielding them from environmental toxins and helping repair damage. Where does one find these flavonoids with antioxidant power? Chocolate!
Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. In addition to antioxidant qualities, research indicates that flavanols have other positive influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart and making blood platelets less sticky.
Some chocolate manufacturers are studying ways to keep high levels of flavanols in their products while still producing good-tasting chocolate. But, before you grab that chocolate bar, it’s important to know that not all chocolate contains high levels of flavanols. The more chocolate is processed – the fewer flavanols are retained. Typically, dark chocolate contains more flavanols than milk chocolate, which contains more fats and sugars, but again it all comes down to processing.
Here are some guidelines for making good choices. Be careful about the dark chocolate you choose. Avoid the chocolates that have lots of added ingredients such as caramel and marshmallows. There is no established serving size to help reap cardiovascular benefits, so it pays to eat in moderation. So, indulge in your little bite of heaven and don’t forget to eat other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, red wine, tea, onions and cranberries.
Information derived from the Cleveland Clinic website article Heart and Vascular Health & Prevention.