Recent reports in the news are touting chocolate as the next super food capable of improving your brain function, fending off cancers, removing plaque from your arteries, extending your longevity and a litany of other healthful benefits.  
Hold on.  
As per most things we read and hear, that is not exactly true.  Let’s look a little deeper.
The ingredient in chocolate with positive health effects is the cacoa bean. The component of the cacoa bean that produces most of the health benefits are the high levels of flavanols that can be found in the bean.  Flavanols protect the cacoa plant from environmental toxins and help repair cell damage caused by the toxins.  By eating the cacoa bean, you transfer these positive effects to your body.
The problem with most chocolate is that the cacoa bean has to be heavily processed to remove its naturally strong and pungent flavor.  The more the cacoa bean is processed, the fewer flavanols remain.  Roasting the bean produces cocoa which is lower in flavanols.  “Dutch processing” is the treatment of the bean with alkali in order to neutralize the natural acidity.Alkalis are things like lye and baking soda. In this part of the bean’s processing, many more flavanols are removed.  Other processing techniques like fermentation further remove the healthful benefits.  The “Broma process” is a better technique for preserving flavanols although this method produces a bitter chocolate.
The Cleveland Clinic suggests that you eat one ounce of unsweetened organic dark or baker’s chocolate a day.  As this might not be the tastiest way to get your flavanols, other foods such as apples, strawberries, blueberries, peanuts, cranberries, onions, tea and red wines have similar healthful affects on your body.  
Be happy on the inside; eat your way to health with modest amounts of unsweetened organic dark chocolate, cups of tea or glasses of red wine.

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