Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Dark Chocolate!
Welcome to a new month, as well as a new feature on a key ingredient in our vegan protein and nutrition bars. Today we’re going to talk about the one healthy ingredient that you should have no trouble adding to your daily diet – dark chocolate!
Darker is Better
If you have to eat any type of chocolate, darker is better. For one, it has less sugar and fat, which is always good for health-conscious eaters. Second, it has higher antioxidant properties since it contains a higher concentration of cocoa. Dark chocolate also offers the following health benefits:
Vitamins and Minerals
By adding a bit of dark chocolate to your diet you are giving your body access to trace minerals that are important for optimal function, including potassium, iron, copper, and magnesium. Copper and magnesium are particularly important, as they can assist in preventing Type 2 Diabetes, as well as help curb high blood pressure and lower the risk of heart disease.
Dark chocolate is excellent for your heart and arteries; just one more reason to make sure you have small regular amounts in your diet. Not only can it lower your blood pressure (don’t you feel calmer after some chocolate?), it also may reduce the risk of clots (by preventing platelets from sticking together) and can prevent hardening of the arteries as you age.
By increasing blood flow to key areas of the body, particularly the brain, dark chocolate can ensure optimal bodily function. There are also a few different compounds found in chocolate that help to reduce endorphins so you feel calm, relaxed, and happy.
An Antioxidant Avalanche
Antioxidant levels are measured by the amount of ORACs (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) contained in the food per 100 grams, and the more the better. Dry, unsweetened cocoa powder and unsweetened baking chocolate have ORAC values of 50,000-55,000, while regular dark chocolate has an ORAC value of 20,000. Those are both much higher than blueberries (9,000) but less than acai berry (102,000). What this means is that a small amount of chocolate contains a high amount of antioxidants, but that doesn’t mean you should solely depend on chocolate for your antioxidant needs. Adding dark chocolate to your diet really shouldn’t be a challenge, but it should be done in moderation. Whenever you feel the need for a treat, a small amount of dark chocolate is a good option over high sugar or high fat desserts, and can be combined with other healthy ingredients like fresh or dried fruit. Remember that not all dark chocolate is the same – look for a high cocoa count to get the most health benefits you can.
22 Days Nutrition LOVES Chocolate!
You can find organic, vegan and Fair Trade Certified dark chocolate in many 22 Days Nutrition bars including: PB + Chocolate Chip Nirvana, Pineapple Chocolate Chip Wonder, Daily Mocha Mantra, Nut Butter Buddha and Cherry Chocolate Bliss. You can also find organic cocoa in our protein powder, Plant Protein Power in Chocolate.