We are seeing a near hysterical rise in chocolate health claims, both good and bad, followed by some major marketing campaign encouraging people to buy very expensive health chocolate. The latter use terms such as organic, cold-pressed, free-trade and (the clincher) lead-free.
I mean, who wouldn’t want lead-free chocolate? Would we deny our body the same health consideration we give our Toyota’s gas tank? Worse, would we knowingly feed lead to our kids?
Obviously, this fear is so great that company’s can sell cocoa “superfoods” under names such as Xocai and Chava Vital Chocolate. The ad I clicked for Xocai promises “Healthy Chocolate Eat Dark Chocolate Enjoy health benefits Earn money while doing it.” Notice the lack of punctuation. That’s so they can jam more words in and still be under the maximum character count allowed by many ad companies. Notice also how they sell “earn money.” That’s a good indicator that it’s not about the chocolate..or even about the health. They appeal to 3 things fear of death, hunger for sweets, and desire for money. Everything’s there but sex, but the word count restrictions probably forced them to leave that off.
Apparently though, Xocai has been making some people money, as this multi-level marketing racket is still around, and now even has competition, from Chava Vital Chocolate. Chava’s health chocolate is also another multi-level marketing company, but they are very slick. Their ads are almost good enough to make be dig into my pocket and pay $145 for a box of chocolate wafers that looks very much like one I can get at my local supermarket $5.
They, too, say they can make me rich, if I just send in $29.95 for a marketing kit. (I didn’t look at the upsells, but $29 probably just gets your foot in the door.) Heck, 12000 people a month visit this website…they’ve got me thinking.
Ah, forget it, I’M too old to go for this crap. Let’s look at the facts:
- These outrageously priced health chocolates are probably pretty good quality. I guess this because for a fraction of the price they’re charging, it’s possible to sell the finest chocolates available. At $145, you’d think they would cover their bases in this regard.
- They have wisely guessed that many consumers will just search for lower priced super fine chocolates on the net, at places like this guide to organic chocolates. But, Xocai and Chava are prepared. Xocai chocolate includes acai berry extracts, and Chava chocolate includes a mysterious almond extract. I know little about either, except that you can obtain them separately elsewhere for much less expense. Let’s stick to the chocolates.
- Cocoa does in fact have many benefits. Besides being one of the world’s richest sources of dietary magnesium, it is loaded with flavinols and anti-oxidents. It goes on..a Cornell University study showed that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants found in green tea. Cocoa is a good source of calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium, manganese and some of the B Vitamins. It has a high content of sulfur, which helps build strong nails and hair, as well as healthy and beautiful skin, helps to detoxify the liver, and supports the healthy functioning of the pancreas. The heart-healthy flavanols found in cocoa, especially the epicatechins, stop fatty substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries. They also help prevent blood platelets from sticking together to cause blood clots, heart attacks, and strokes – all without the negative side effects associated with the use of aspirin and other pharmaceutical blood-thinners. Cocoa also contains the amino acid Tryptophan which makes serotonin and prevents feelings of depression. Cocoa contains dopamine, phenylethylamine (PEA), anandamide MAO Inhibitors – good for both the brain and the heart Phenylethylamine (PEA) increases mental alertness and the ability to concentrate, and can be of help to students taking tests, as well as to senior citizens who want to retain their mental capacity. Other studies have suggested that consuming dark chocolate produced an increased sensitivity to insulin (which indicates a protective effect against diabetes.
- Cocoa has other things that may or may not be good for you, though on balance cocoa seems pretty darn healthy. Chocolate, on the other hand, usually has enough sugar, oils and additives to balance against the benefits of the cocoa content.
- Raw cocoa is probably much healthier than processed cocoa powder. In fact, scientists in Spain discovered that they could boost the flavinol levels in cocoa by 7 times when they skipped the conventional fermentation and roasting steps used in processing cocoa beans.
- Cocoa beans may have relatively high levels of lead. There are several studies, and even the Nigerian cocoa board admits as much. The lead may come from the process after harvest, partly because Nigeria still uses unleaded gasoline that affects the local air. It may be from the soil, or from agricultural chemicals. Yet, it’s there, especially in cocoa from Nigeria. Still, while large chocolate companies need to buy large volumes of beans and can’t get around this issue, smaller chocolate companies can be more particular about what cocoa they buy. Also, one study compared the levels of lead to those found in boiled shrimp. So the levels are not off the food charts. They are just high when compared to most foods.
- Buying cold-pressed, or raw chocolate might be a good idea – and it is widely available on the web. There is no need to buy Xocai or Chava chocolate unless you plan to get rich selling it to the next sucker down the line. And while I would guess that health chocolate is lead-free, I haven’t actually seen any proof of it in the form of objective tests.
Cocoa is a super food high in magnesium, and I recommend moderate consumption. Don’t rely on it as a cure-all. And stay away from the brands that have highly touted health claims and which use multi-level marketing, unless you have money to burn. And remember, chocolate can be healthy, but health chocolate can be harmful to your wallet, so use the money to buy some nice fresh foods instead.