New Years has come and gone – did you make any health related resolutions? Looking for a way to continue improving your health during the month of chocolate, aka Valentine’s Day? Well you’re in luck!
Chocolate is derived from the cocoa plant, which contains large amounts of antioxidants and minerals. The antioxidants in cocoa are called flavonoids! Antioxidants are great for the body because they neutralize free radicals and prevent oxidative stress. Over time, oxidative stress can contribute to the development of various diseases, such as Heart disease, Diabetes, Cancer and Eye disease. Flavanols also benefit two major risk factors for heart disease including: high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
But – all chocolate is not created equal, even though all chocolate is delicious! There is a difference between milk and dark chocolate. Since milk chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar, milk and small quantities of cocoa, it contains a lesser amount of antioxidants. Whereas, dark chocolate is rich in ton of minerals, including iron, magnesium and zinc. Did you know it is recommended to eat 1 to 2 ounces or 30-60g of dark chocolate daily? The darker the chocolate (higher percentage of cocoa) means more flavonols, which leads to improved wellness. Dark chocolate also contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation in our body. This sweet, yet bitter treat may even improve brain function and prevent Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. So, if you’re leaning towards a chocolaty snack, you may want to choose dark chocolate that includes at least 70 percent of cacao to get that delicious chocolate flavor with more health benefits!
So, enjoy the chocolate holiday and go for the dark chocolate when you’re craving something sweet! Remember, the darker the chocolate, the more health benefits.
Check out these ways to include dark chocolate into your meals and snacks:
- Blend rich dark chocolate in your delicious smoothies
- You can even add chocolate into your oatmeal as well as cereal
- Add dark chocolate chips to your yogurt
- Melt dark chocolate and drizzle it on top of fruits
- Mix melted chocolate into nut butter
- Have a square (or two) of chocolate for dessert