Happy National Chocolate Day



As if Chocolate needed an official holiday!

In moderation, a bit of dark chocolate can actually be a healthy addition to your diet!

Let me define what moderation is:

One ounce of chocolate, eaten slowly, mindfully, a couple times per week. Allow that piece of chocolate to dissolve slowly, tasting its decadence and deliciousness!

A few of the benefits of dark chocolate ( 70% or higher of cacao, preferably Organic and Fair Trade)

Flavonoids help protect plants from environmental toxins and help repair damage. They can be found in a variety of foods, such as fruits and vegetables. When we eat foods rich in flavonoids, it appears that we also benefit from this “antioxidant” power.

Antioxidants are believed to help the body’s cells resist damage caused by free radicals that are formed by normal bodily processes, such as breathing, and from environmental contaminants, like cigarette smoke. If your body does not have enough antioxidants to combat the amount of oxidation that occurs, it can become damaged by free radicals.

Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research shows that flavanols have other potential influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.

Before you dash off to grab a Snickers Bar; let me explain that not all chocolate is created equal! Many of the commercial chocolates on the market are highly processed and do not contain health building flavanols. The more processed the chocolate is, the more these flavanols are lost in the process. Typically dark chocolate is superior to milk chocolate when it comes to health benefits. Do keep your chocolate ‘clean’. No need for caramel, marshmallow, or other gooey concoctions that quickly turn healthy into dietary disaster! Chocolate has enough natural fat, as it is.

Partially Unwrapped Chocolate Bar --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis
Partially Unwrapped Chocolate Bar — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

According to the Cleveland Clinic, “The fat in chocolate comes from cocoa butter and is made up of equal amounts of oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. Stearic and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fat. You may know that saturated fats are linked to increases in LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.”

Cleveland Clinic goes on to explain, “Research shows that stearic acid appears to have a neutral effect on cholesterol, neither raising nor lowering it. Although palmitic acid does affect cholesterol levels, it only makes up one-third of the fat calories in chocolate. Still, this does not mean you can eat all the dark chocolate you’d like.

Enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate on occasion!

source:  Cleveland Clinic