An Interview with Lisa Bunce, dietitian, nutritionist, and cocoa flavanol expert!

Lisa Bunce is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and a Professor of Nutrition who was involved in some of the original research on cocoa flavanols. She’s super knowledgeable about cocoa flavanols, and a huge FlavaFan!

We had the opportunity to chat with Lisa, and are excited to share her story and insights with the Flava Community.

1. Lisa, tell us about your role as an educator involved in the initial research on cocoa flavanols. 

I was lucky to be part of the cocoa flavanol story as it began to unfold over 20 years ago. I was a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist hired by M&M Mars as a spokesperson to help educate people about both the mechanism of action – how cocoa flavanols do what they do – and their demonstrated clinical benefits. It was a great time in my life, traveling and speaking to health professionals and consumers about the benefits of flavanol-rich dark chocolate!

2. In your view, what is the greatest benefit of daily cocoa flavanol consumption? 

Well of course dark chocolate tastes great and addresses cravings! But the benefits of flavanols on our cardiovascular systems are even more compelling. Flavanols positively affect our nitric oxide pathway, thereby improving blood flow and benefiting blood pressure. They also have the potential to increase good cholesterol (HDL), protect against bad cholesterol (LDL) from oxidation and atherosclerosis, and minimize inflammation throughout the body.

3. As a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, what do you tell your clients about dark chocolate and cocoa flavanols? 

As an RDN in private practice, and an Adjunct Professor at two local colleges, I’m always emphasizing the benefits of plant-based eating. I generally tell clients and students about how cocoa flavanols work and their proven health benefits. But I also talk about how cocoa beans come from the pods of trees (Theobroma Cacao trees) and are loaded with health-promoting plant based compounds called phytochemicals. And of course I mention that dark chocolate and cocoa can help satisfy their sweet tooth in a nutritious way!

4Tell us about your experience with FlavaNaturals – how do you like to #havaflava?

I’m so pleasantly surprised by, and continually happy with FlavaNaturals! I enjoy all the FlavaBar flavors, but my favorite is the Crystallized Ginger + Saigon Cinnamon. I also recently, at the last minute, had to bring brownies to an event, but I didn’t have any cocoa powder in my pantry. I tried substituting FlavaMix, which my daughter uses in her coffee every morning, and the brownies were fabulous! FlavaMix is my new go-to ingredient, and brownies are another sweet way I enjoy cocoa flavanols.