• Amy Slater

All things chocolate: Yay Polyphenols!



Health benefits of CHOCOLATE!


According to a study in the Journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, “Cocoa contains more phenolic antioxidants than most foods.”


Dr. Mercola defines polyphenols as phytochemicals, meaning compounds found abundantly in natural plant food sources that have antioxidant properties. There are over 8,000 identified polyphenols found in foods.


Polyphenols have numerous health benefits, including:

Here is where it really gets exciting!!


Here is an idea for you!!

Here is a “treat” plate after dinner for the kids. A 1/2 piece of homemade gluten-free, sourdough bread with coconut butter, a little wedge of 85% Theo dark chocolate, thawed from frozen wild blueberries from Costco, and Brie cheese. They build a little sandwich with bread, Brie cheese and blueberries. It’s a mess, but it is totally worth it!!


Polyphenols positively affect gut health!


Polyphenols have a probiotic effect on the gut, which improves the nutrition and health of the beneficial bacteria living in your gut. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “consumption of cocoa flavanols can significantly affect the growth of select gut microflora in humans.”


The quality of the cocoa does matter. We are not looking at milk chocolate here! It is important to source high-quality dark chocolate, such as:


Organic Dark Chocolate by Theo–85% cocoa


80% Cacao by Pure 7


Organic 85% Cacao Chocolate Bar by Pascha


Organic 85% Bitter Sweet Dark Chocolate Chips by Pascha


Organic Cacao Powder–by Thrive Market


Chocolate bars with higher “% cocoa solids” on the label generally have more polyphenols (flavanols) than ones with lower percentages.


How much dark chocolate should I eat to get the polyphenol benefit?


Even small amounts of dark chocolate (6 to 10 grams—or 0.2 to 0.35 ounces—a day) have been linked to cardiovascular benefits.


A quarter of an ounce is not much! That can easily be incorporated into homemade treats that are not too sweet, but just sweet enough to be a treat.


Try some of these recipes:


Cacao pancakes










Avocado chocolate pudding














Chocolate star cake with a chocolate avocado frosting













Or, combine the two into a special cake decorating kit.













Chocolate beet brownies













Chocolate sunbutter cookies













Polyphenols don’t just come from dark chocolate. An article from Nutrition Advance offers the top 100 foods high in polyphenols.


Here are 20 of the 100 polyphenol rich foods that would be easiest to incorporate into your children’s diet:

  1. Cloves: represent the highest dietary food source of polyphenols in the world. Add cloves to soaked oatmeal, bake into muffins or even add to smoothies.

  2. Dried Peppermint: you could steep this into a tea and add the tea to smoothies, brew kombucha or drink it by itself.

  3. Star Anise: you could steep this into a tea and add the tea to smoothies, brew kombucha or drink it by itself.

  4. Cocoa Powder: see all of the dark chocolate recipes above. Or, add cocoa powder to smoothies, muffins, or coconut milk for a special treat.

  5. Mexican Oregano: use this herb with any savory dish.

  6. Celery Seed: is best added to soups stews and fish dishes.

  7. Dark Chocolate: Are you kidding me… dark chocolate is everything! See the above references.

  8. Flaxseed Meal: remember to grind your flaxseed fresh because it goes rancid quickly. You can incorporate this into muffins, cookies, oatmeal, smoothies, and bread.

  9. Chestnuts: the girls absolutely LOVE these nutty and slightly sweet treats. You can find them seasonally peeled and roasted or on Thrive Market anytime.

  10. Dried Sage: Like oregano, dried sage can be added to any savory dish from eggs to meat and fish.

  11. Dried Rosemary: Add rosemary to veggies, chicken, and tomato sauces.

  12. Dried Spearmint: Add spearmint to smoothies, fruit salads or make it into a tea.

  13. Dried Thyme: Add dried thyme to any savory dish.

  14. Wild Lowbush Blueberries: look for wild blueberries. You can typically find these in the freezer section. They are smaller than typical blueberries. I add these to smoothies and muffins.

  15. Capers: are a condiment in the olive family. They are tiny, salty and a bit sweet. Add them to tuna salad and salmon.

  16. Black Olives: this is a great snack! Don’t forget to teach your kids how to stick them on their fingers for “olive fingers”. (see below)

  17. Highbush Blueberries: These are the typical larger blueberries. I add these to snack bowls.

  18. Hazelnuts: You can easily grind this uniquely flavored nut into , flour and make it into muffins or cookies.

  19. Pecans: These nuts are amazingly delicious when soaked for a couple hours and then dried in a dehydrator on low heat until crispy. Add them to oatmeal, or granola, or make them into a pie!

  20. Plum: This fruit is delicious raw or baked along with apples and pears. You can add spices like star anise, cloves, or cinnamon!


I hope this post inspires you to add some polyphenol-rich foods to your kids’ plates!!


Sources:


Katz, David L., Kim Doughty, and Ather Ali. “Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease.” Antioxidants & Redox Signaling 15.10 (2011): 2779–2811. PMC. Web. 24 Feb. 2018.