Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food. ...Hippocrates
Antioxidants are free radical scavengers. Antioxidants are associated with lower incidence of free-radical induced diseases such as cardiovascular disease, neuro-degenerative disorders (Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseasses), cancer, and other age-related disorders. In addition to other foods high in antioxidants, cocoa and cocoa products are known to contain significant contents of antioxidants.
Chocolates are rich in flavonoid antioxidants (especially, epicatechin). A human (in vivo) study reported in the Journal Nature found that intake of dark chocolate increased antioxidant capacity in the blood plasma of the study subjects. According to the same study, milk chocolate and chocolate taken with milk resulted in less antioxidant capacity.
Another research group also reported high antioxidant activity in chocolate and other cocoa products manufactured in the USA. The chocolates evaluated included Hershey's, Ghiradelli, Kroger, Dove and Nestle brands. Below is a list of the cocoa products and their antioxidant activity in ORAC units adapted from the study.
|Composite sample no.||Chocolate or cocoa product type||
Antioxidant activity/content in
ORAC ( µmol of TE/g ±SD)
|1||Dark chocolate||246.0 ± 32.7|
|2||Dark chocolate||195.7 ± 3.1|
|3||Dark chocolate||151.7 ± 33.3|
|1||semi-sweet chocolate chips||190.3 ± 16.5|
|2||semi-sweet chocolate chips||177.3 ± 16.8|
|3||semi-sweet chocolate chips||174.0 ± 23.6|
|1||Milk chocolate||72.3 ± 5.5|
|2||Milk chocolate||72.0 ± 2.6|
|3||Milk chocolate||41.7 ± 1.2|
|1||Chocolate syrup||66.7 ± 8.7|
|2||Chocolate syrup||65.7 ± 3.1|
|3||Chocolate syrup||57.5 ± 6.0|
ORAC = oxygen radical absorbance capacity. SD = standard deviation.
Dark chocolate health benefits: reduced risk of blood cloting.
Chocolate flavonoids, health benefits against heart diseases.
More lists of food sources high in antioxidants :
Fruits, vegetables, nuts
Fruits - II
Black and green tea, wine, coffee
Whole grain breakfast cereals
Data adapted from: Kenneth B. Miller, David A. Stuart, Nancy L. Smith, Chang Y. Lee, Nancy L. McHale, Judith A. Flanagan, Boxin Ou, and W. Jeffrey Hurst. 2006. Antioxidant Activity and Polyphenol and Procyanidin Contents of Selected Commercially Available Cocoa-Containing and Chocolate Products in the United States. J. Agric. Food Chem., 54 (11), 4062 -4068.
Additional reference: Serafini, M., Bugianesi, R., Maiani, G., Valtuena, S., Santis, D. S., and Crozier, A. 2003. Plasma antioxidants from chocolate. (Dark chocolate may offer its consumers health benefits the milk variety cannot match). Nature, 424:1013.