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Should I add cocoa powder to my diet?

July 1, 2022

Ask the doctor

photo of an assortment of cocoa bean products, with a glass mug of hot cocoa at the center and loose beans scattered aroundQ. Many doctors and nutritionists recommend eating dark chocolate in moderation, and I’ve heard I should look for bars that are 70% cacao. But wouldn’t it be easier to just add a teaspoon of 100% unsweetened cocoa powder into my morning coffee?

A. It’s a reasonable question, especially since one of the common caveats about eating chocolate bars is that they typically contain considerable amounts of sugar, fat, and calories. The potential health-promoting compounds found in chocolate include a category known as flavanols. These compounds are abundant in many plants, including cocoa beans, which are the seeds of the cacao tree. Diets high in flavanols have been linked to improved cardiovascular health, possibly by relaxing blood vessels (which lowers blood pressure) and improving blood sugar control (which may help prevent diabetes).

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