I get confessions from a lot of clients in Irvine, CA, about their addiction to chocolate. Some hide it in secret places in their home, like the freezer or the sock drawer. If you’re a secret chocolate chomper, there’s good news. Dark chocolate is actually healthy. There are limitations. Don’t get a share size dark chocolate candy bar and eat it all yourself…or any large candy bar, for that matter. There are also only certain types of chocolate that are healthy. The serving size should be between 30 and 60 grams a day. Since each dark chocolate Hershey’s mini bar weighs about 8.6 grams, that’s about 5 a day.
You’ll get the heart healthy benefits of dark chocolate.
If you’re a chocolate lover, there’s good news. It has benefits for your heart due to the cocoa phenols. If you have slightly elevated blood pressure, it can help lower it. However, excess weight is also a factor in high blood pressure, so make sure you substitute it for something else equal in calories, rather than just add it. The Journal of American Medical Association says dark chocolate is also loaded with other compounds like catechins and flavonols that act as antioxidants to protect the cells.
Dark chocolate can lift your mood.
Dark chocolate can affect your mood—for the better! It’s been used since early civilizations to promote love, which is easy to understand. The happier you are, the more likely you’ll be to couple. In early Mesoamerica roasted cacao beans were mixed with vanilla, cornmeal honey and chilies in a drink that was meant for a loved one. Today we know that there’s a chemical reaction in the brain from the phenylethylamine in the chocolate. The anandamide, a neurotransmitter, also relaxes you and reduces anxiety.
There’s more to the story.
Chocolate contains some sugar with darker chocolate having less. Those same five mini bars contain approximately 200 calories. That can make the difference in how successful your weight loss program will be. You’d have to jog 22 minutes just to burn off those calories. When you compare that to eating an apple, with half the calories and more nutrition, you need to weigh the benefits and drawbacks.
- Try dark chocolate covered blueberries or acai berries to get even more antioxidants, such as polyphenols and flavanols. The chocolate contains even more of those antioxidants than the fruit.
- Look for chocolates that contain a minimum of 70% cacao. Even though Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate was used in the example, it only contains 45% cacao, but it’s far better than milk chocolate.
- Find dark chocolate that has as few ingredients as possible. The best will list cocoa, cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, cocoa butter or chocolate liquor first. Lecithin is often listed as soybeans and isn’t necessary, is often added for appearance quality, but won’t hurt you.
- Avoid any dark chocolates that contain trans fats. Always read the labels thoroughly.
For more information, contact us today at Next Level Fitness