Here is some good news that you can use. Recent studies have found that dark chocolate is actually good for you! Dark chocolate falls into the category of a “functional food”, which is a food that provides a benefit to you beyond just nutrition. In the case of dark chocolate, it contains flavanoids, which have been shown to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Not only that, but dark chocolate also contains antioxidants and polyphenols. Antioxidants are found in various fruits, vegetables, green tea and red wine, which help with heart health. However, dark chocolate has more antioxidants than both green tea and red wine. Polyphenols are excellent for boosting serotonin in the brain, which produces a feel-good sensation in the brain.
With all of the excellent health benefits of dark chocolate, there are some caveats to be aware of. The benefits of dark chocolate are only found in dark chocolate-not milk chocolate or white chocolate. Chocolate is still chocolate and contains an ample amount of calories and fat, so moderation is key. To reap the health benefits from dark chocolate, you only need a few ounces a day, which is equal to about 2 dark chocolate Hersey Kisses.
Other ways to get more of the health benefits (in moderation) from dark chocolate are:
- Make a trail mix with raisins, unsalted almonds and a handful of dark chocolate M&M’s.
- Make hot chocolate using dark chocolate cocoa powder, skim milk and Splenda.
- If buying a bulk bag of dark Hersey Kisses or Dove dark chocolate candy, put the bag in the freezer and take out only 2 a day, so that you don’t over-indulge.
- Buy Cocoa Via dark chocolate chews, which also provide vitamins, minerals and calcium.
Studies are still underway to test the results of dark chocolate on decreasing blood pressure, cholesterol and PMS symptoms. Keep an eye out for those study conclusions in the future. But for now, enjoy the fact of knowing that a little chocolate a day will go a long way in helping your heart. So, go ahead and have a piece of dark chocolate from the candy box you received for the holidays. Your heart will thank you. For more options on how to include the foods that you love into your daily eating plan, contact CNY Healing Arts in Syracuse to meet with me, a Registered Dietitian. Our number is 315-671-5755.
Heather Neely, RD, CDN
CNY Healing Arts Center