Happy Valentine's Day: The Benefits of Chocolate
by Krista A. Schultz, MEd, CSCS
Indulge and enjoy the positive effects of dark chocolate
Did you know that eating dark chocolate is good for you?
Made from the cocoa plant, dark chocolate contains polyphenols. Polyphenols are natural compounds found in all plant-based foods and largely contribute to the beneficial health effects of fruits and vegetables. Phytonutrients and phytochemicals in the cocoa help reduce sweet cravings and regulate the metabolism of fats.
Dark chocolate is also rich in antioxidants and other good stuff
The cocoa bean is also rich in antioxidants which protect the body from cellular damage, illness and aging caused by free radicals. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that a moderate consumption (about 100 grams/day) of dark chocolate in place of a processed sugary dessert has positive effects on blood pressure.
Dark chocolate contains flavonoids and magnesium which help keep blood vessels elastic and aids in blood pressure regulation. Dark chocolate is also a good source of monounsaturated fat which helps improve blood cholesterol levels.
Dark chocolate makes you feel good too...
In addition to its health benefits, dark chocolate gives us a sense of euphoria because it increases endorphin production. According to the American Psychological Association, eating 1.4 ounces of dark chocolate per day was actually shown to reduce stress in American workers! Dark chocolate also contains serotonin, a natural mood boosting anti-depressant.
Darker chocolate is better
The darker the chocolate the more health benefits it will provide. Look for 65% or higher cocoa content and avoid products with added sugar. If you go as high as 72% dark chocolate it is higher in fiber and chromium which helps promote weight loss.
Happy dark chocolate eating!