The Little Dark Secret of Chocolate

Chocolate has a bad reputation of making you fat, causing bad skin, having way to much sugar, and the list keeps going. Did you know that some chocolate is actually good for you and has health benefits? It is not just any ole’ chocolate that has the good stuff, dark chocolate can benefit you. Chocolate is high in fat so moderation is the key.

Dark chocolate is also called “bittersweet” or “semisweet” chocolate. It has a high percentage of cocoa solids, and little or no added sugar. Dark chocolate flavor is rich and intense.

What Should I look for in Dark Chocolate?

Dark Chocolate   Brown ArrowEqual to or more than 60% cocoa

Brown Arrow  It should be made from cocoa butter.  Cocoa butter contains significant amounts of saturated fat in the form of Stearic acid. However, it has a neutral effect on cholesterol unlike the other fats.

Brown Arrow  It should be made without the use of ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially hydrogenated’ oils.

Brown Arrow  Darker is better: Phytochemicals, like flavonoidscontribute to pigment.

 

Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Heart

Dark Chocolate can help improve blood flow and can help prevent blood clots. Eat only small amount 2-3 times a week.

Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Brain

As you know, dark chocolate increases blood flow. This means that the blood will flow to the brain as well as to the heart, which help improve its function. Dark chocolate can also help lower your risk of stroke.

Did you know that dark chocolate can have a positive effect on your mood? It is the phynylethylamine that is in the chocolate which is the same chemical that is created in your brain when you feel like you are falling in love. This in turn makes you release endorphins which makes you feel happier. No wonder we all feel better after eating chocolate.

Dark chocolate also has a small amount of caffeine. It has even less than a cup of coffee.

Dark Chocolate Helps Control Blood Sugar

Yes it’s true, dark chocolate helps keep your blood vessels healthy. This in turn helps circulation. There are flavonoids in dark chocolate that help reduce insulin resistance.  Dark chocolate won’t cause big spikes in blood sugar levels because it does have a low Glycemic level

Dark Chocolate is Chalked Full of Antioxidants

Antioxidants are essential to help your body get rid of free radicals damage to cells. Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants.

This means that dark chocolate can help your skin look its best. The cocoa helps reduce stress hormones, which means less collagen breakdown, in turn there will be fewer wrinkles.

Flavonols found in chocolate, are antioxidants. They help protect your skin from UV damage. Flavonols in dark chocolate even improve skin hydration and thickness.
Don’t eat it with a glass of milk. Studies show that drinking milk along with the dark chocolate may interfere with the absorption of the antioxidants.

It is believed that free radicals blamed for the aging process and may be a cause of cancer. So, what I am saying, pick up a piece of dark chocolate and start eating it guilt free.

 Dark Chocolate Contains Theobromine

What the heck is Theobromine? Theobrimine has been shown to harden tooth enamel. Wait, I thought that chocolate ruins teeth?  Dark chocolate contains Theobromine so that means that it is protecting your teeth. Make sure you still practice proper dental hygiene.

Theobromine is also a mild stimulant however, it is not as strong as caffeine. It has been known to help to suppress coughs.

Dark Chocolate is High in Vitamins and Minerals

Dark chocolate has many nutrients that our bodies need. These vitamins and minerals support your health. These vitamins are found in high concentration in dark chocolate.

  • Potassium
  • Copper
  • Magnesium
  • Iron

“The copper and potassium in dark chocolate help prevent against stroke and cardiovascular ailments. The iron in chocolate protects against iron deficiency anemia, and the magnesium in chocolate helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.”

With all this talk of chocolate, I have a great recipe that taste delicious and is full of energy. It is short and sweet and easy to make.

Chocolate Espresso balls

Dark chocolate balls

  • 1 C. CHOPPED PITTED DATES
  • 1/2 C. RAW ALMONDS
  • 1/2 C. RAW CASHEWS
  • 1 T CHIA SEEDS
  • 1/2 T UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER
  • 1/2 T INSTANT ESPRESSO POWDER

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor until the mixture begins to stick together. Roll into balls. Store in the refrigerator.

Resources:

“6 Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate.” / Nutrition / Healthy Eating. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May

2DeNoon, Daniel J. “Dark Chocolate Is Healthy Chocolate.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 22 May 2013.013.

“University of Michigan Health System.” UMIM: Healing Foods Pyramid. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2013.

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