Dark Chocolate


Easter brings to my mind thoughts of baskets spilling over with colorful eggs, children full of excitement (and sugar) and of course, chocolate eggs and bunnies of all shapes and sizes. Did you know that a little bit of dark chocolate is actually good for you? It’s because chocolate is actually made from plants, which means it contains a lot of the same health benefits of dark leafy vegetables. These benefits come from the flavonoids in the plants, which act as antioxidants. (Antioxidants protect your body from aging caused by free radicals, which is good, because free radicals can cause damage that leads to heart disease). Flavonoids will also help balance certain hormones in your body. All of this is good information, but there’s even more good news! Dark chocolate is good for your heart too. A small amount of it everyday can help keep your heart and cardiovascular system running strong. Two heart health benefits of dark chocolate include:

  • Lowering Blood Pressure: Studies show that consuming a small amount of dark chocolate everyday can reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure.
  • Lowering Cholesterol: Dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent. That’s a double bonus!
Other Benefits of Dark Chocolate include:
  • it tastes good (I went with the most obvious benefit first!)
  • it stimulates your endorphin production, which makes you feel happy
  • it contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant

Here’s some more good news – some of the fats in chocolate do not impact your cholesterol levels. The fats contained in chocolate are 1/3 oleic acid, 1/3 stearic acid and 1/3 palmitic acid. Oleic Acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is also found in olive oil. Stearic Acid is a saturated fat, however research has shown it has a neutral effect on cholesterol. Palmitic Acid is also a saturated fat, and does indeed raise cholesterol levels and your risk of heart disease. But that means only 1/3 of the fat in dark chocolate is bad for you!

*Clarification: This post is in no way saying that you can eat as much chocolate as you would like without any ill side effects. Just like all foods, portion control and moderation are key.

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