The Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Chocolate is often considered an unhealthy snack option but in moderation it can act as quite the opposite. Chocolate derives from the cocoa bean which studies have shown is actually rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It’s also good for the heart, stress reduction and boosting morale! Whatsmore, including chocolate as a regular part of a balanced diet isn’t a bad idea. Let’s take a look at a few facts about chocolate to help sway the negative hype its acquired.

CHOCOLATE, A POWERFUL ANTIOXIDANT

Dark chocolate is mainly composed of cocoa butter which contains powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols that are able to neutralize the free radicals within our bodies. As a recap from past articles, free radicals are extremely aggressive particles which our bodies produce from oxygen. When levels of free radicals exceed the levels of antioxidants, our bodies go into a process known as oxidative stress which is responsible for premature aging, cancer and cardiovascular disease.
Thus, dark chocolate can help to reduce the risk of several diseases by eliminating the prevalence of free radicals.

IS CHOCOLATE GOOD FOR THE HEART ?

Thanks to the polyphenols, the regular consumption of reasonable portions of chocolate can help to regulate blood pressure.
Keep in mind that most of the chocolate we see in stores contains processed cocoa which has undergone many treatments and is often mixed with sizeable amounts of sugar. That said, the ideal choice should be chocolate produced from organic farming with at least 70% cocoa and a minimal sugar content.

CHOCOLATE AND ITS EFFECTS ON CHOLESTEROL

Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid found in cocoa butter. It does not increase cholesterol but rather its antioxidant molecules do just the opposite.
Milk chocolate, on the other hand, contains animal fats that are conducive to cholesterol and should be avoided or consumed in moderation.

CHOCOLATE. IS IT AN ANTIDEPRESSANT ?

Chocolate is a good source of magnesium which can help manage stress and anxiety. In addition, tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin, also acts as a means of stress reduction.
That’s why it’s safe to say that eating chocolate is good for morale!

Despite support in the antidepressant properties of chocolate, some scientists believe otherwise. They’ve found that there is a weak concentration of the stress regulating chemical substances like magnesium and have argued that the positive effects on morale exist but in limitation!

WHAT TO REMEMBER

Despite the health contributions by many wellness products, it’s important to stay in control. Moderation is the key!
Chocolate remains a high-calorie snack option that is rich in both fat and sugar. That said, the ideal portion size should not exceed 10g per day.
Don’t forget that chocolate made with process cocoa has undergone several treatments and is often mixed with too much sugar. In order to utilize its many virtues I’d suggest reaching for organic dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa.

Article written by Amélie Vincent, dietitian.

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