Chocolate seems to get a bad rap sometimes. Why do we always debate whether or not a delicious food is healthy for us? The answer: we want to feel good eating the foods we enjoy. In a perfect world, we would each have our own personal chef that cooked nothing but nutritious foods for us to eat. And after each meal, we would be able to devour a healthy dessert. Well….. at least we can find a healthy treat for those post-meal cravings. Its name is chocolate.
Unfortunately, here is the caveat. Not all chocolate is created equal and there are many wolves in sheep’s clothing. You cannot eat any variety you want and think it is healthy for you. When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. In fact, many argue that anything over 70% cocoa is considered healthy.
Milk chocolate, which represents most of our candy, is not healthy at all. It is high in saturated fats and added sugars. Although these ingredients make it taste better, they also destroy your health. A diet that is high in saturated fats and excessive sugar can lead to hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. An occasional piece of candy may be alright for most of us to eat, I just wouldn’t recommend eating it daily. Dark chocolate, though, can be eaten more often. Although, I recommend keeping your serving sizes to 1-2 ounces.
Benefits of Dark Chocolate
- Loaded with antioxidants. Antioxidants help fight damage caused by free radicals in the cells. Antioxidants also protect your cells from heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.
- May help you to focus. One study showed that dark chocolate was able to improve the brain’s cognitive function in healthy young adults.
- Lowers blood pressure. The flavanols stimulate the lining of the arteries to release nitric oxide which helps the arteries relax. This relaxing of the arteries improves blood flow throughout your entire system.
- It makes you happy. Dark chocolate has a chemical called PEA (phenylethylamine). This triggers your brain to release endorphins, which are the chemicals you produce when your are happy or in love.
Valentines Day is right around the corner, so get your sweetheart some dark chocolate. It will be delicious, healthy, and make you happy. Enjoy!!
Dr Spencer Charlet
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