I’ve never been a chocolaholic, but I do enjoy a good bite of dark chocolate each day for my health.
Recent studies say dark chocolate — not white chocolate or milk chocolate — is good for you! What is it about dark chocolate? Chocolate is made from plants, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are from flavonoids, which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from aging caused by free radicals, which can cause damage that leads to heart disease. Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries). Flavonoids also help relax blood pressure through the production of nitric oxide, and balance certain hormones in the body. Dr. Andrew Weil has dark chocolate included in his anti-inflammatory food pyramid. How exciting is that?!
Taste the Chocolate
Chocolate is a complex food with over 300 compounds and chemicals in each bite. To really enjoy and appreciate chocolate, take the time to taste it. Professional chocolate tasters have developed a system for tasting chocolate that include assessing the appearance, smell, feel and taste of each piece.
Go for 70% Dark Chocolate
You should look for pure dark chocolate or dark chocolate with nuts, orange peel or other flavorings. Avoid anything with caramel, nougat or other fillings. These fillings are just adding sugar and fat which erase many of the benefits you get from eating the chocolate. Be sure to look for a brand that contains at least 70 percent cocoa.
Skip the Milk
It may taste good but some research shows that milk chocolate, or washing your chocolate down with a glass of milk could prevent the antioxidants being absorbed or used by your body.
But On The Negative Side…
1. Chocolate may trigger headaches in migraine sufferers. Sorry guys. Try carob instead!
2. Chocolate is considered dangerous to animals because it contains a stimulant called theobromine, which they can’t digest. Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are even more dangerous because they contain higher concentrations of the substance. This applies whether chocolate is in candy bar form, or an ingredient in cake, cookies, puddings or ice cream. If a pet becomes ill after eating chocolate, take it to the vet immediately.
3. Even though it may be healthy, dark chocolate can be very caloric. Savor and enjoy a piece (or two!) a day, not a bar.