With Valentine’s Day lifting its heart-shaped head, there is one thing on everyone’s mind…the annual chocolate gorge-fest! Well lucky for us chocoholics, it turns out chocolate is actually good for us!
Cocoa-the backbone of chocolate as we know it- is a rich source of flavonoids, plant compounds that have powerful antioxidant properties. The benefits of these flavonoids include decreasing blood pressure, improving circulation, improving the flexibility of the arteries, preventing blood clots, and reducing the risk of stroke and heart attack. Cocoa is also a good source of copper and magnesium which help to regulate blood pressure. But the benefits of cocoa aren’t just heart-specific. It also contains compounds that give your brain a little stimulating boost, acts as a natural anti-depressant and promote relaxation.
Now don’t get too excited as not all chocolates are created equal. The higher the cocoa content, the more health benefits you’ll reap from your chocolate fix. Which means you can kiss your white chocolate goodbye as it contains no real cocoa. While milk chocolate does contain some cocoa, it is not enough to outweigh the negative health affects of the added milk and sugar. So if your goal is health, dark chocolate is the winner.
But buyers beware. Even dark chocolate is a calorie dense food item. While only 1/3 of the fat in it is bad for you (the other 2/3 consists of healthy monounsaturated fats and saturated fats that have a neutral affect on cholesterol), eating too much will not benefit your waist line. Moderation is still the key. Enjoying one ounce of dark chocolate daily will provide you with health-sustaining antioxidants without packing on the pounds.
What’s your favorite way to enjoy your daily ounce of dark chocolate?