In today’s world, a food’s health profile seems relatively easy to understand. With a cursory glance at the label on a box of Oreos, you’ll not only discover it contains sugar, number one, but also artificial flavor and just 2 percent of calcium, despite all that rich cream in the middle; along with all those other things you didn’t want to read aloud to your conscience, like 60 calories from fat in just a few bites. In today’s world, unfortunately, you need the black and white stats.
But when you break a food apart to each ingredient, compound and chemical, piece-by-piece, how do you really know which is better for you?
After testing my culinary skills with a truffle that highlighted two easy favorites of the health world—green tea and dark chocolate; I was curious.
Which was better?
However, to quantify such a question, I had to set limitations. What was I trying to measure? When discussing foods such as tea and chocolate, the vast variations of their disease fighting powers litter the web. I wanted to keep it simple—antioxidant count.
First, it seemed important to fully understand the power of the word by a definitive source; the U.S. National Cancer Institute says:
“Antioxidants are substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radical damage may lead to cancer. Antioxidants interact with and stabilize free radicals and may prevent some of the damage free radicals might otherwise cause.”
But again, this is where the ambiguity sneaks in; according to research by Holland’s National Institute of Public Health and Environment, dark chocolate, in comparison to its brethren, milk and white-chocolate, contains significantly less fat and also radically more antioxidants, specifically known as catechins. In fact, per 100 gm, dark chocolate holds 53.5 mg of catechins. Milk chocolate contains only 15.9 mg and even lower, green tea claims a still laudable 13.9 mg.
How does dark chocolate do it? Its sheer concentrated capacity of antioxidants, which in fact account for more than 10 percent of the weight of the dry raw cacao beans alone.
But as you’re always trained to hear in health, those black and white figures on the label will also remind you that chocolate, dark or not, has calories too. And numbers don’t lie, on a scale or on the foil wrapper. Your heart won’t rebound if you’re consumed three dark chocolate bars daily, no matter how grand the number of free flowing radicals. Tea: green, black, or oolong can beat dark chocolate in that number game any day.
The rest is up to you to decide.