My last post was about the health benefits of eating broccoli. I like broccoli and have always known it to be healthy. Making better choices every day to slowly improve our health and happiness is what this blog is all about and broccoli, fixed different ways can be one of those smart choices.
But, believe it or not, chocolate has some of the same healthy properties as broccoli. Don’t get too excited though. I’m not talking about those milk chocolate kisses or the solid chocolate bunnies we all love on Easter morning. I’m talking about Dark Chocolate. And not just anything that says “dark” on the wrapper.
When selecting chocolate, look for higher cacao and lower sugar content. In general, the darker the chocolate, the higher the cacao content. For health benefits, choose chocolate with a cacao percentage of 70 or higher. I like the Ghiradelli Midnight Reverie with 86% cacao. A 45 gram (about 1 ½ oz) serving contains only 5 grams of sugar. And also contains 3 grams of protein. As a comparison the same serving of Special Dark Hershey bar contains over 21 grams of sugar. Needless to say the Hershey bar has very little of the health benefits shown below.
Since cacao is bitter, the higher percentage cacao, the more bitter it is. Most manufacturers add sugar to make it palatable so it is a balancing act to make it taste good and still retain the healthy properties. I would say it is an acquired taste but if you have cut back on your sugar intake like I have recommended a little sugar goes a long way.
Here are the six benefits of eating dark chocolate:
- It lowers blood pressure by increasing circulation and blood flow due to the flavonoids as well as increases blood vessel elasticity and slightly reduces LDL. This also improves eye health due to increased blood to the retina and brain.
- Contains antioxidants (more than green tea) which fight the free radicals in our bodies
- Contains reservatrol which is a strong anti-inflammatory and shields nerve cells from damage. This property also
- Contains polyphenols – this is what makes it bitter. Theobromine suppresses appetite and increases body’s ability to break down fat
- Lowered Insulin resistance which helps prevents diabetes
- Phenethylamine causes our brain to release dopamine which helps put us in a good mood
A bonus tip is that by combining dark chocolate with apples the healthy properties of each are enhanced so that the two foods become healthier than just eating them alone. Apples contain high antioxidant flavonoids and dark chocolate is rich in antioxidant catechins. The combination have been shown to break up blood clots and reduce risk of stroke.
Now I have finally given you something you can really sink your teeth into and enjoy. But, of course moderation is the key, especially if you are working on losing some weight