By Sarah Bonato, Reference/Research Librarian, CAMH Library
Take some time out to celebrate Bittersweet Chocolate Day! This type of chocolate doesn’t have as much sugar as other chocolate types and no milk, so it’s vegan-friendly and ranked as the second most healthy chocolate choice.
Bittersweet chocolate contains a lot of flavanol-rich cocoa, which may help bring down blood pressure, and lower the risk of heart disease and diabetes. A New England Journal of Medicine study has also identified a correlation between chocolate intake per capita and the number of Nobel laureates in select countries.
We know mental health and health are closely related, so read on for some info on the history of bittersweet chocolate in medicine, health benefits associated with bittersweet chocolate intake and a couple of healthy recipes.
Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease, by D. L. Katz, K. Doughty, & A. Ali (2011)
From Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, 15(10), 2779-2811
- Summarizes the research on the benefits of cocoa or dark chocolate intake (including bittersweet chocolate) and concludes that habitual consumption most likely has a net health benefit for most of us. There is the strongest evidence for cardiovascular benefits, but chocolate might also have positive immunomodulating effects in both infectious disease and cancer. To boot, their might also be metabolic and psychological benefits—another good reason for justifying regularly consuming a bittersweet chocolate treat. As if any more were needed!
Access at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4696435/
Chocolate in History: Food, Medicine, Medi-Food, by D. Lippi (May 14, 2013)
From Nutrients, 5, 5, 1573-1584
- Historical background on how chocolate has been seen as good for your health throughout the ages. Very detailed documentation on the use of chocolate as medicine in both Mesoamerican civilizations, and Medieval/Renaissance Europe. Also helpful for gaining an understanding of the past in order to identify other areas where the potential health benefits of chocolate might be further investigated.
Access at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3708337/
No-Bake Chocolate Cherry Oat Bars Recipe
From Eat Right, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
- Had too many holiday treats but still crave something sweet? This recipe include bittersweet chocolate, whole grains, and fruit. A bonus is that you don’t even need to turn on the oven.
Recipe at https://www.eatright.org/food/planning-and-prep/recipes/no-bake-chocolate-cherry-oat-bars-recipe
Chocolate Bark With Espresso and Toasted Nuts
From the Cleveland Clinic
- A heart-healthy bittersweet chocolate bark with no added sugar. Full of toasted walnuts, pecans and almonds—so along with the flavonoids from the chocolate, you benefit from a dose of Omega-3 fatty acids. Browse https://health.clevelandclinic.org/topics/diet-food-fitness/recipes/ for even more healthy recipes.
Recipe at https://health.clevelandclinic.org/recipe-chocolate-bark-espresso-toasted-nuts/
Dark Chocolate. (2018, May 30). Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/dark-chocolate/
Franz, H. Messerli (2012). Chocolate Consumption, Cognitive Function, and Nobel Laureates. The New England Journal of Medicine, 367, 16.
Goyanes, C. (2018, May 25). The Healthiest Types of Chocolate. Retrieved from https://www.womenshealthmag.com/food/a19921720/healthiest-chocolate/
Want more education info, innovation and stories? Follow CAMH Education on Twitter: @camhEdu