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The Real St. Valentine’s Day War: Milk vs. Dark Chocolate

Posted on February 13, 2017 by Jeanne Roberts There have been 0 comments

On February 14, 1929, seven prohibition-era gangsters were shot down in cold blood by a handful of Al Capone’s men dressed as policemen wielding machine guns.

Fast forward 88 years, to another Valentine’s Day, and the only war on the horizon is the American Chemical Society’s verbal battle between dark chocolate and milk chocolate. (And we know how much you love YouTube).

For those who prefer their battles in the print medium, consider this: dark chocolate, the literal “dark horse” of the chocolate world until very recently, is so full of antioxidants it puts even blueberries and coffee to shame. Milk chocolate is mostly milk solids and sugar. White chocolate isn’t even chocolate.

Scientists measuring the antioxidant potential of dark chocolate – via an ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) test – found it one of the highest scoring foods ever tested. In fact, in terms of polyphenols, dark chocolate rivals blueberries, one of the so-called antioxidant “superfoods” for its ability to seek out and destroy free radicals.

Fortunately, chocolate (aka cocoa powder) doesn’t use, or even need, a machine gun to execute the Infamous Six free radicals known as peroxyl radical, hydroxyl radical, superoxide anion, singlet oxygen, peroxynitrite, and hypochlorite.

What do free radicals do? They steal electrons from your body, which damage your DNA, cell proteins, and even the cell membranes which keep everything sorted. This eventually and ultimately leads to cell death – and we all know where that leads. Milk chocolate is like fighting the war with a cardboard sword. White chocolate is no contest.

But enough science. In the real world, dark chocolate lowers the risk of heart disease, presumably because it improves blood flow. It does this by stimulating the body’s production of nitric oxide, a gas that tells the arteries to stop being so tense. When the blood flows easier, blood pressure drops, and dark chocolate doesn’t need a machine gun to achieve this benefit!

Dark chocolate also lowers “bad” (LDL) cholesterol, another heart-healthy benefit, and lowers insulin resistance – a huge factor in the development of diabetes.

In addition, dark chocolate helps skin by reducing sun damage, improving blood flow and increasing the skin’s ability to absorb and hold water.

Ignore those rumors that chocolate makes you break out. That is the sugar component, not the chocolate, and milk chocolate always has more sugar than dark chocolate when made into candy and other sweets. This is why milk chocolate can never win. You can resolve the breakout issue by choosing dark chocolate products sweetened with stevia, raw honey, coconut sugar, dates, or pure organic maple syrup.

And, finally, dark chocolate improves brain function by increasing blood flow. As a side effect of this action, it also improves verbal fluency, so perhaps this is why women love it!

The winner is clear. Dark chocolate by a nose! Just be sure you choose sustainably produced and harvested chocolate. And remember, if you show up without chocolates this Valentine’s Day, you might as well shoot yourself!

This post was posted in Blog and Green Library, Eating Well, Holidays and was tagged with antioxidants, cholesterol, dark chocolate, free radicals, heart disease, milk chocolate, nitric oxide, ORAC, Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, polyphenols, SUSTAINABLE, Valentine's Day, white chocolate


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