The Chocolate That’s Good For You
Everybody has a sweet tooth, and chocolate is a no-brainer to satisfy that sweet craving. Dark high quality chocolate in particular (not your typical Snickers) has several health benefits that make it a bit more justifiable to snack on!
For many years, chocolate has been viewed as the ultimate comfort food and it has become one of the most popular foods in the world. However, due to the over consumption of this silky, dark, sweet food many health practitioners warn against it. They say that it’s calorie-laden and does little in the way of ‘real’ nutrition. But studies are proving that there is quite a lot of benefit from dark chocolate.
The question is this: Are there any health benefits to consuming dark chocolate?
Obviously, over-consumption of any food can be bad for your general health. Recent studies, however, have shown that consuming (in moderation of course) dark chocolate has many health benefits. So eating about an ounce of dark chocolate every day is actually a good thing! How much is an ounce? About 1 square inch. Here’s a link to one of my favorite bars, and here is another.
The first question that many may ask is: why dark chocolate, not milk chocolate?
When you compare dark chocolate with milk chocolate, dark chocolate comes out as the obvious winner when it comes to nutritional benefits. Dark chocolate has more fiber and nutrients, but less sugars and cholesterol. That is why it is my sweet treat of choice.
It has to be said that, when talking about dark chocolate, we are talking about chocolate with a cacao percentage of 70% and more, and after eating dark chocolate you will never go back to milk chocolate again!
The Main Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate
- Lowers cholesterol: In studies, dark chocolate has proven to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol). As we know, too much bad cholesterol is not good for us. These studies showed that dark chocolate actually provided health benefits when it comes to cholesterol.
- It’s good for the heart: Perhaps the most well-known reason, dark chocolate is good for the heart. Dark chocolate contains nutrients that are known to help lower blood sugar and increase blood flow. In addition, anything that lowers cholesterol is good for the heart.
- It improves your skin: Dark chocolate contains lots of flavanols, which protect the skin against sun damage. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can do without sun screen! However, it does mean that the flavanols will reduce the damage on the skin due to the sun. In general, dark chocolate has a positive effect on the skin.
- It’s nutritious: Of course, dark chocolate does contain calories – up to 242 per 100 grams. This means that it should be eaten in moderation – remember, 1 square inch. However, dark chocolate contains minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper and manganese, zinc, potassium and selenium. It is also a good source of fiber, containing about 11 grams.
- Good source of antioxidants: Dark chocolate contains a large amount of antioxidants, which are great for promoting heart health, decreasing risk of infection, and fighting free radicals in the body. The cocoa tree is one of the best source of antioxidants on the planet. This means that its fruits – the cocoa pods also have antioxidant properties.
The Chocolate Conclusion
Although dark chocolate has a higher calorie, fat and saturated fat content than milk chocolate, its health benefits are much higher than milk chocolate. If you consider that dark chocolate has 22% more iron, four times more fiber and 242 grams more theobromine (the alkaloid which reduces blood pressure) per half bar than milk chocolate, then the picture becomes clearer that dark chocolate has many health benefits.
It is also worth considering that dark chocolate has less carbs and half the sugar of milk chocolate and it’s easy to see why dark chocolate has many health benefits.
Dark chocolate is definitely the preferred flavor of chocolate when it comes to those midnight snacks or holiday treats. Just make sure you don’t over indulge! Here’s a super great recipe using dark chocolate that you can enjoy anytime.
Dark Chocolate Biscotti
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 350°.
Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, flaxseed, soda, and salt in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine sugars, egg whites, and egg in a bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed for 2 minutes. Add vanilla; mix well. Add flour mixture to egg mixture; stir until combined. Fold in chocolate and almonds. Divide dough into 3 equal portions. Roll each portion into a 6-inch-long roll. Arrange rolls 3 inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Pat to a 1-inch thickness. Bake at 350° for 28 minutes or until firm.
Remove rolls from baking sheet; cool 10 minutes on a wire rack. Cut rolls diagonally into 30 (1/2-inch) slices. Place, cut sides down, on baking sheet. Reduce oven temperature to 325°; bake 7 minutes. Turn cookies over; bake 7 minutes (cookies will be slightly soft in center but will harden as they cool). Remove from baking sheet; cool on wire rack.
Please enjoy your very dark chocolate daily!!