Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

August 1, 2012

dark chocolateYou may have heard news reports that chocolate, and in particular dark chocolate containing 65 percent or higher cocoa content, can benefit your health. So, is chocolate actually a healthy food?

The answer is yes ??? in moderation, of course. Dark chocolate contains over 300 compounds and chemicals including flavonoids, which have an antioxidant effect. These antioxidant properties help protect the cells from the damaging effects of free radicals.

Heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and other common illnesses are suspected to be caused, at least in part, by an inflammatory response. Foods containing high amounts of antioxidants, such as dark chocolate, are thought to help offset this inflammation and reduce the risk of these illnesses.

Studies have also linked eating chocolate to increased endorphin and serotonin levels. Both are thought to increase well being and reduce depression, which may help explain why people often reach for chocolate when they are having a bad day.

So the good news is yes ??? you can still enjoy dark chocolate as part of a balanced diet and doing so might actually help reduce your risk of certain diseases. However, I do have a few words of caution.

Be sure not to overindulge and if chocolate is a binge eating ???trigger food??? for you, please avoid it. Most medical studies show that it only takes about 3.5 ounces to reap the health benefits of dark chocolate. Depending on the brand, 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate contains around 200 calories. Over a week???s time, eating that much chocolate daily would add up to 1400 calories, or nearly half a pound!

Luckily, there are many other foods with far fewer calories that also contain the same flavanoid compound as dark chocolate. These include blackberries, plums, pears, peaches, and soybeans. I???d much rather see you reach for these foods daily and save the dark chocolate for special occasions.

And finally, when you do have dark chocolate, be sure to really savor it. Eat it slowly, focus on the flavor, and truly enjoy the sensory experience.


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.


Select Month