Eating Chocolate Can Actually Benefit Your Health!
Ah, chocolate…life’s guilty pleasure!
With Halloween right around the corner, I’m sure most of us will be sneaking a few extra pieces of chocolate this season. But, chocolate doesn’t necessarily need to equate to guilt. If you can wean yourself off the sugary crap (i.e. milk chocolate, white chocolate, or just about anything that’s cheap and easy to find), and develop a taste and preference for rich, dark chocolate, you will actually be helping your body; this is not something to feel guilty about!
The anti-inflammatory properties of dark chocolate promote heart health by reducing inflammation of the circulatory system, thereby reducing blood pressure and clots. While more research is needed, some studies have found that regular consumption of dark chocolate may help to reduce the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart attack.
Dark chocolate improves blood circulation, which can promote mental health. As circulation gets stronger and faster, more nutrients and oxygen are available for cells while toxins and other bad stuff are more quickly eliminated. Cleaner blood leads to improved memory and focus, fewer joint pains and reduced arthritic symptoms, and clearer, more radiant skin. Circulation-enhancing cocoa can help to defend the body against many diseases caused by a sedentary lifestyle.
Cocoa butter contains saturated fat that is good for you. The stearic acid in cocoa butter is converted to oleic acid, which helps lower bad (LDL) cholesterol and raise good (HDL) cholesterol levels.
If you’re trying to lose weight but can’t seem to give up chocolate, switch to dark chocolate to help you reach your goal. Dark chocolate has higher protein than milk chocolate, leaving you feeling full faster and longer; its bitter taste is also less likely to result in a binge and more likely to reduce cravings. Even smelling dark chocolate can help reduce cravings and appetite.
The darker the chocolate, the fewer the grams of sugar. This means you won’t be ingesting as much processed, toxic sugar as you would if you ate conventional chocolate. And, unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate’s antibacterial properties can help protect your teeth by inhibiting plaque build-up.
Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants to help neutralize free radicals and it can help boost your mood and ward of depression.
What is truly fascinating is that, in cultures who consume a lot of dark chocolate, disease is rarely seen. Chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa is the best for promoting health. Stick to 1-2 ounces per day; try adding plain cocoa or shaved dark chocolate to oatmeal, coffee, smoothies and non-dairy milk. To get used to its taste, start with chocolate that is 65% cocoa and slowly work your way up to 85% or 90% cocoa.
This Halloween, buy yourself a nice bar of dark chocolate and nibble on that while handing out candy to the neighborhood kids!