Chocolate Is a Health Food
While chocolate is not yet on anyone's food chart as a
required nutritional element, it is gaining attention these days
for its health benefits. As a chocoholic, you’ll be happy to learn
that chocolate is not as bad as we once thought it was. The fat in
chocolate, which comes from its cocoa butter is made of equal
amounts of oleic, stearic and palmatic acids. Oleic acid is a
heart-healthy monosaturated fat promoted most commonly in olive
Although flavinoids don’t sound too appetizing, they’re another
healthy component of chocolate. Flavinoids shield plants from
environmental toxins and help plants repair damage. Recent studies
are also showing how we benefit from the antioxidant power of
flavinoids when we eat chocolate. Believed to also help our cells
resist damage, antioxidants are sometimes used in dietary
supplements and widely promoted as a way to prevent disease such as
cancer and coronary heart disease. Most often found in fruits,
vegetables and whole grains, antioxidants found in dark chocolate
provide the same health benefits.
And lastly, cocoa phenol compounds in chocolate are known to
lower blood pressure. Chocolate certainly tastes good. It
stimulates the production of endorphins, as does exercise and
affection with someone you love. Perhaps that's why chocolate is a
food for lovers? It's certainly healthier than alcohol or
Would you believe that one study showed that chocolate helps
prevent tooth decay in children?
Remember that darker is better. White chocolate, milk chocolate,
or even dark chocolate in combination with drinking milk will not
provide the health benefits delivered from dark chocolate
Also moderation is always important when thinking about your
health. A 100-gram serving of Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Bar
has 531 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
If you ate that much raw apple (also rich in antioxidants) you'd
only take in 52 calories. Along with the caloric intake that comes
with eating chocolate, the stearic and palmatic acids in chocolate
are saturated fats that could raise your cholesterol.
Why not try some organic dark chocolate covered fruit or nuts?
Here’s a combination that feeds your hunger for the taste of
chocolate, but in less quantity. And you also benefit from the
nutrients in the fruit and nuts as well.
Words for the wise – dark chocolate will never replace fruit,
vegetables or whole grains in a healthy diet. But, if you must
satisfy a craving for chocolate, make it dark chocolate. And
wash away the guilt with the knowledge that your heart will not
only be healthier, but you'll be happier as well.