Do you think of green tea as a health food and chocolate as just a sinful treat? You may be surprised to find out that as long as you choose flavonoid-rich dark chocolate, it provides some of the same health benefits as green tea.
Consume it only in moderation, though, as it’s high in fat and calories. The beneficial antioxidants in both of these foods help lower your risk for heart disease, cancer and cognitive decline.
1. Antioxidant Content
Both green tea and chocolate contain beneficial antioxidants. However, cocoa contains more antioxidants than green tea, with three times as many polyphenols and 12 times as many flavonoids, according to a study published in “The Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” in 2003. The polyphenols and flavonoids in green tea and chocolate, including epigallocatechin gallate, procyanidin, resveratrol and theaflavin, help keep you healthy by minimizing cell damage from free radicals.
2. Heart Disease
Eating chocolate may help lower your risk for both stroke and heart disease, according to a study published in 2009 in “The British Medical Journal.” People who consumed the most chocolate had a 29 percent lower risk for stroke and a 37 percent lower risk for heart disease compared to people who consumed the least chocolate. The catechins in green tea may help lower your heart disease risk, too, by decreasing your blood pressure, cholesterol and body fat levels, according to another study published in “Obesity” in June 2007.
DNA damage increases your risk for cancer. Consuming 45 grams, or about 1.5 ounces, of dark chocolate a day can reduce damage to your DNA, most likely due to the high amounts of flavonoids found in this food, according to a study published in April 2010 in “The British Journal of Nutrition.” Green tea contains a catechin called epigallocatechin gallate, or ECGC, that may destroy cancer cells and keep them from spreading. This lowers your risk for cancer, according to an article published in “Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics” in 2010.
4. Cognitive Function
Consuming either chocolate or green tea may help you maintain your cognitive function as you get older, according to a study published in “The Journal of Nutrition” in January 2009. Drinking tea had a larger effect on test scores in elderly individuals than did eating chocolate, but the best scores were achieved by people who consumed tea, chocolate and wine.