Are you striving for a healthy diet but can’t seem to shake that sweet tooth? Well I have a solution for you: dark chocolate! Although chocolate may seem like the ultimate diet breaker, this tasty treat actual has quite a few health benefits. Because the cocoa in chocolate comes from plants, it contains many of the same important ingredients as vegetables– ingredients such as flavonoids. Flavonoids are antioxidants that help protect your body from free radicals that cause things like heart disease. They also help lower blood pressure and levels of LDL (the bad cholesterol).
Chocolate also has a significant effect on your body hormones. When people say that eating chocolate makes them happy, they are not lying! Not only does chocolate contain stimulants like caffeine to perk you up, it also contains the antidepressant serotonin and stimulates the production of endorphins, leading to even more feelings of happiness.
It is important to remember, however, that although chocolate provides a plethora of health benefits, it should be consumed, as everything else, in moderation. Chocolate is a high fat, high calorie food. For example, most chocolate bars contain around 200-400 calories each. 3.5 ounces is the recommended amount. Be sure to avoid empty fillers like caramel or nougat which only add sugar and calories. If you want something mixed in with the chocolate, opt for nuts which contain unsaturated fats.
Finally, be sure to choose dark chocolate. Because dark chocolate is about 65% cocoa, it has the most nutritious “plant” ingredients. In addition to having less cocoa, the milk in milk chocolate is thought to wash away or dilute flavonoids. So, next time you just can’t pass on dessert, don’t feel guilty by indulging in a little bit of dark chocolate. It’s good for your health!
By Maja Warrum