Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
What is Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate isn't your ordinary chocolate. It is known for its bittersweet taste and contains at least 70% cocoa or higher and contains very little sugar. The higher the cocoa percentage, the better its heart healthy benefits. Semi-sweet chocolate or milk chocolates aren't the same thing and don't offer anywhere near the health benefits that dark chocolates offer.
Things such as chocolate candies contain lots of sugar and added additives and very less flavonoids and don't offer any health benefit to speak of. So, dark chocolate is very different than your normal chocolate candies or milk chocolates.
Why is Dark Chocolate Good for You?
The health benefits of dark chocolate come from flavonoids, which are antioxidants that are naturally present in many fruits and vegetables and also beverages like tea and wine. The good news, however, is that dark chocolate is one of the richest sources of flavonoids.
Antioxidants protect you by fighting against the damage caused by free radicals, which are unstable molecules and have been linked to the development of cardiovascular disease and certain cancers. Since dark chocolate contains high levels of flavonoids, eating them offers you cardioprotective and anti-cancer benefits.
Research has also shown the effect of dark chocolate in reducing platelet activation, which is a step in clot formation. This of course may reduce one's risk of suffering strokes and heart attacks. Apart from these benefits, dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce stress.
Quick Tips and Things to Watch for Before You Dig in to Your Dark Chocolate
We know by now that dark chocolate is good for you and your heart, but that doesn't mean you should go on a chocolate-eating binge. There are some things you need to watch out for,
- Eat dark chocolate in moderation since it is high in calories and saturated fats. The recommended intake is up to 7 ounces per week or 1 ounce per day. Binging can result in weight gain, which would reverse any heart-healthy benefits you gain from eating it.
- Do not mix dark chocolate with milk, as milk has been shown to hamper absorption of flavonoids/antioxidants by the body.
- Maximize its heart-healthy benefits by mixing in other heart-friendly foods such as strawberries and blueberries. You can add in some nuts and dried fruits as well and create wonderful desserts.
So, what are you waiting for? Go dig in to your bar of dark chocolate. An ounce or two of dark chocolate a day may well keep the doctor away!
© 2011 Shil1978
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