Dark chocolate is one of those simple pleasures in life that makes you feel instantly good. As it turns out, there’s science to back it up! Let’s find out why indulging on this sweet treat is just as good for your heart as it is for your mind with nutrition Expert Jessica Spiro.
Chocolate is one of those anomalies in that it not only tastes delicious, but also happens to have a variety of awesome health benefits. You’ve probably read some of the studies and heard the reports, so let’s find out what makes it so amazing!
Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, including flavonoids, and other beneficial properties that make it a nutritious treat. While there are many reasons to relish that daily piece of chocolate, here are 3 that show why dark chocolate is the perfect way to celebrate your love for that special someone, friend, coworker or yourself!
1. Good for your heart
Dark chocolate is often touted for its cardiovascular benefits and for good reason. It’s been shown to improve cholesterol by reducing total and LDL cholesterol, reduce blood pressure as well as blood sugar levels. One study with over 20,000 participants found those who ate dark chocolate on a regular basis had reduced incidences of cardiovascular disease and strokes than those who avoided chocolate. No wonder Valentine’s Day falls on American Heart Month!
2. Good for your mind
Stressed out about a project or exam? Eat a square of dark chocolate! Thanks to the combination of caffeine and a compound called theobromine, dark chocolate can increase alertness and memory by improving blood flow to the brain. Dark chocolate can also improve your mood. How? It contains tryptophan, which is a precursor to serotonin. This is all the more reason to feel good about being a chocoholic.
3. Good for the body
The flavonoids in dark chocolate may also protect the skin by reducing cellular damage. In addition, moderate consumption of dark chocolate may be one of the only desserts that aid in weight management of healthy individuals. The reason is partly because of the soluble fiber it contains and also because of its metabolic effect on the body.
So what do you want to look for in a dark chocolate?
The higher the chocolate content, the better if you want to reap the health benefits of chocolate. Choose one with more than 65% cocoa content, and limit or skip milk and white chocolate varieties all together. While, like everything, it’s always best to eat chocolate mindfully and in moderation, feel good knowing that a great way to show someone you care is by giving the gift of chocolate.
Jessica Spiro, RD, CLC is a registered dietitian nutritionist from Encinitas, CA specializing in pre- and post-natal nutrition, as well as cancer, food allergies, diabetes management, and heart health. Check out more fun recipe ideas and nutrition tips with Jessica!