Sunday, June 24, 2012

Tidbit: Is Chocolate Really a Healthy Food?

Some of the good stuff. But 70% cocoa is all you need for benefits.

Once in awhile I hear someone say they don’t like chocolate. I’m not one of those people. (Hint: Buy dark if you’re getting me a present.)

If you listen to or read the news, often the reporters talk about how chocolate is good for your heart because of the great antioxidants, great type of fat, etc. But is that really true?

The answer is Yes and No.

Chocolate definitely has it’s good points:
  • It contains antioxidants (flavanols), which are thought to be the substances responsible for many health-related benefits.
  • It can help reduce blood pressure and LDL cholesterol.
  • It can boost your mood.
  • It comes from a plant (so it fits with a plant-based diet, right?)
  • It makes most everything taste better

 And of course, chocolate has a down side:
  • It has calories- you have to count them in.
  • It is hard to stop eating!
  • Milk chocolate and white chocolate doesn’t count; the dark chocolate has the most benefit. (And white chocolate is not even a contender; it does not contain cocoa solids, the beneficial part of chocolate.  White chocolate is made from cocoa fat, other types of fat, milk and sugar.)

Some of the science behind chocolate’s benefits is found in research studies, such as this one in the Archives of Internal Medicine, published March 26, 2012.

More of the good stuff.

So what can you do to include this great food in your diet?
My suggestion is to plan it into your day. I know, it sounds boring, but paying attention to calories has it’s rewards (like, you’ll fit into your clothes next week and next month).

Some of the studies had participants eat an ounce of dark chocolate a day to see benefits.  What is the equivalent of an ounce of dark chocolate?
  • About 150 calories
  • 3 tablespoons of dark chocolate chips
  • 3 squares Lindt dark chocolate (one-quarter 3.5 ounce bar)  
  • 4 squares Dove dark 

So there you have it. A fun food with benefits.

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