What if I told you that eating chocolate is good for your health? For many, that’s a dream come true! It is rare to hear the words healthy and chocolate used in the same sentence because many people usually classify it as a guilty pleasure that, after eating it, makes you feel just that – guilty. However, guilt is something that should never be associated with food, especially chocolate, since there have been a lot of research done that indicates that daily consumption of small servings of chocolate actually promotes heart health.
Although research has proven that this sweet sensation is linked to heart health, it’s important to understand that not all chocolate is created equal. Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate contains flavonoids, which has antioxidant properties that decrease cell damage related to heart disease. Flavonoids also help lower blood pressure, improve vascular function, and may even reduce the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart attack.
But here’s the catch: flavonoids are much more prevalent in dark chocolate than in milk or white chocolate. Chocolate is often considered unhealthy because it does contain saturated fat. However, the fats in chocolate are stearic acid and monounsaturated fats that don’t raise blood cholesterol levels as much as other saturated fats do. Chocolate has forever gotten a bad rep because chocolates other than dark chocolate often have other fats added to it like milk fat, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, and oils containing natural saturated fats like coconut and palm oil in addition to cocoa butter. Also, a majority of the chocolate that many people love to eat are in the form of candy bars, desserts and ice cream which typically have added fat, sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.
Therefore, a suggestion would be to choose a dark chocolate with no less than 65% cocoa and limit yourself to a small amount each day. Some great ways to eat dark chocolate are to buy dark chocolate chips and add them to your yogurt, oatmeal or homemade trail mix, add to a smoothie, melt and eat over a graham cracker or fresh fruit, or even just keep a bar in your refrigerator and eat one square every day. This way, you can have your daily dose of chocolate and no longer feel bad about satisfying your sweet tooth!
Your turn to take action: What are your favorite ways to eat chocolate?