It looks like New York City employees can add another benefit to the list of reasons why they should enjoy chocolate as a healthy snack—fewer irregular heartbeats. A recent study performed in Denmark by a group of Danish and American scientists found that participants who consumed two to six servings per week of chocolate made with at least 30 percent cocoa solids had an 11 to 20 percent lower chance of atrial fibrillation (AF) or irregular heartbeats. AF negatively affects over 12 million people in the United States (U.S.) and European Union (EU), and increases the likelihood that a stroke, heart failure, cognitive decline, or dementia will occur.
Chocolate, as a category, is made from different combinations of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, cocoa bean powder, sugar, and milk powder. Out of all of the ingredients, cocoa is the one that benefits cardiovascular health. In addition to antioxidants, cocoa contains flavonoids which perform a variety of jobs such as helping control insulin sensitivity, improving blood flow, and protecting the skin against UV damage. For chocolate to provide the most benefit, it needs to be made with a higher percentage of cocoa, and avoid processing methods such as fermenting, alkalizing, and roasting that cause important flavonoids to be lost.
Of all of the types of chocolate available in New York City, dark chocolate meets those criteria the best. But it is still important to check each bar of chocolate for the percentage of cocoa solids because those can vary. For example, in the EU, milk chocolate must contain a minimum of 30 percent cocoa solids while in the U.S., a minimum of 10 percent is required for the chocolate to be considered milk chocolate. Dark chocolate also has different requirements between the two locations—43 percent cocoa solids in the EU and 35 percent in the U.S. So, how do these percentages play out when it comes to the ingredients of dark, milk, and white chocolate?
Dark chocolate is made from the highest percentage of cocoa solids (the part that contains the flavonoids), cocoa butter, sugar, and cocoa bean powder. A different research study performed by researchers at the University of Copenhagen found that dark chocolate decreased cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods. Fewer cravings can help the New York City employee stick to their healthy eating plan. Milk chocolate contains a smaller percentage of cocoa solids and cocoa butter than dark chocolate plus milk powder and more sugar. The milk powder and decreased amount of cocoa creates a smoother and sweeter chocolate than dark chocolate, but it also has fewer flavonoids. White chocolate is made from sugar, milk, and the smallest quantity of cocoa butter, so it doesn’t include any flavonoids.
Enjoying a small amount of dark chocolate with a cup of coffee in the afternoon not only provides health benefits, but it also creates a moment of relaxation and a caffeine boost for New York City employees. That is a benefit for everyone. A convenient location to offer dark chocolate is in a office break room or school lunchroom vending machine. To learn more about vending machine snack (including chocolate) and beverage options contact Healthy Vending at 917.572.3671.