Not all chocolate is bad chocolate. Blood pressure and cholesterol are only a few of the many things positively affected by the consumption of chocolate.
Chocolate: The ultimate gift. We love it milky, dark, white, crunchy, smooth, alone or in desserts. One piece of chocolate can make a horrible day seem all that much better. The downfall is that we’ve been told to lay off the chocolate because it is the sugary enemy. While it is evident that one cannot simply shove truffles down one’s throat to avoid social interaction on a bad day, it is unfair to give chocolate such a negative reputation. In fact, chocolate itself is not the enemy, rather the enemy is the overly processed chocolate that we purchase in most stores. One such overly processed chocolate is time honored classic — milk chocolate.
In the August 2003 issue of Nature, Mauro Serafini, PhD, found that antioxidants help reduce negative molecules in the body known as free radicals.
The article states, “Our findings indicate that milk may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate … and may therefore negate the potential health benefits that can be derived from eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate.”
Therefore, the key to buying healthy chocolate is to go dark. Don’t worry with white chocolate, don’t even think about touching the milk chocolate. Those items have been stripped away from most of their nutritional goodness and left as simply sugar and fat for our purchasing pleasures.
The Many Delights and Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate:
Blood Pressure: Chocolate is rich in magnesium and copper which help to regulate blood pressure and maintain a regular heartbeat.
Stress: Endorphins are stimulated, resulting in that pick-me-up sort of feeling! Chocolate can make any Monday morning seem a little more delightful.
Lowering cholesterol levels: The Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that eating a little piece of dark chocolate each day can reduce bad cholesterol levels in a human body due to the level of antioxidants present in the chocolate.
Dark chocolate may also help:
The immune system, the heart, and can positively affect symptoms of anemia or depression.
Buying Healthy Chocolate:
When looking to purchase chocolate, it is important to look at the percentage of cocoa that is present in the bar. Don’t worry, that’s easy to spot on the packaging! The higher the percentage, the darker the chocolate. i.e. the healthier the chocolate.
The higher the percentage also affects the bitterness of the chocolate. The more cocoa, the less sugar and additives, in most cases. If you’re used to milk chocolate, then dark chocolate may seem too bitter at first taste. Do not fret, your taste buds are simply used to all of the sugars and syrups that make up milk chocolate. They will eventually catch up, though, as you begin to purchase dark chocolate more.
Chocolate is a wonderful item to add to anyone’s diet. The goal is to simply rid yourself of the overly processed, not-so-good for you bars that most grocery stores carry. Despite such unhealthy bars, there are plenty of healthy options out there with high percentages of cocoa that are just waiting to be bit into. So, go buy yourself a chocolate bar. Indulge. Guilt free.