Why You Should Eat Chocolate
Chocolate lovers rejoice! Just think, now you can consume chocolate without all the guilt knowing that you’re helping your heart and decreasing your risk for developing other diseases. More and more research has shown that eating small amounts of chocolate is more beneficial than we ever imagined.
One health benefit that researchers have seen among chocolate eaters is lower blood pressure due to the positive effects that chocolate has on blood flow. Chocolate reduces inflammation and prevents plaque from building up on your arteries. Researchers have also seen that chocolate increases the amount of blood flowing to the brain, helping you focus and perform better.
What is it that makes chocolate good for you? It’s a tiny compound called flavanols, which come from the cocoa seed. Flavanols are naturally-occurring compounds found in plants and are responsible for protecting the plants from environmental toxins and repairing cell damage. When you consume plant-based foods rich in flavanols, you also benefit from this antioxidant power. Your body uses antioxidants to attack the free radicals that increase your cholesterol and build up on the artery walls of your heart.
Not all chocolate is created equal. Since flavanols are bitter to the taste, commercial chocolate goes through processes that remove these compounds. Less processed chocolate, also known as dark chocolate will tend to have higher levels of flavanols. Natural, unsweetened cocoa powder is your best choice in terms of healthiness. Runners up are bittersweet and semisweet chocolate that have a high percentage of cocoa powder. Milk-chocolate tends to be very low in flavanols and should be your last choice.
Just remember to balance your sweet calories with what provides you with the most benefits. If you want something sweet, eat something that has dark chocolate in the mix. And remember portion control. Most healthy diets should include about 100 to 150 calories a day dedicated to something you enjoy eating, such as chocolate!