Over the years, many types of food have received the “unhealthy” label, only to have the stigma reversed in later years as scientists strive to fully understand how the body utilizes different macronutrients – and chocolate is the latest to be given the “healthy” stamp of approval. So why is chocolate now considered good for you?
1. Exceptional Heart Health Properties
Dark chocolate, made from the cocoa bean, is full of flavonoids. These nutrients are what help to repair damage to cells and are also referred to as antioxidants. Increasing antioxidants in your diet help to repair damaged cells and can reduce plaque on the walls of your arteries to lower blood pressure. Antioxidants can also help to increase blood flow, which in turn helps to reduce the risk of blood clots by discouraging platelets from sticking to arterial walls.
2. Helps Your Brain
While helping your heart and increasing blood flow, dark chocolate also helps your brain as well, by improving cognitive function and cutting the risk of stroke. As well as tasting great, dark chocolate also helps you feel great too – the phenylethylamine (PEA) in dark chocolate tells your brain to release endorphins to help you feel happier. So there may be a good reason why you reach for chocolate when feeling down.
3. Controls Blood Sugar
While milk and white chocolate are high in sugar and not helpful to diabetics, dark chocolate is relatively low in sugar and has a lower glycemic index. Once again the flavonoids in dark chocolate come into play, reducing your body’s resistance to insulin to help your body use insulin efficiently.
What About Fat?
One of chocolate’s major “side effects” is its perceived high-fat content, which is comprised of cocoa butter that is added to the cocoa solids. There are three types of fats found in cocoa butter, oleic acid (which is considered heart-healthy) as well as the saturated fats stearic and palmitic acid. While we are all conscious of avoiding saturated fats and their associated risk of increases LDL cholesterol and heart disease, studies have shown that stearic acid does not have any effect on cholesterol, while palmitic acid makes up only a small part of chocolate’s caloric intake. However, it is advised to stick to darker chocolates, which have a lower percentage of cocoa butter.
Studies vary on the amount of chocolate one should add to their diets – but all experts agree that a little pure, dark chocolate is enough. Limit your intake to one ounce per serving, a few times a week and you’ll get all the advantages dark chocolate has to offer, as well as a little sweetness in your life.
Serves 1 1 scoop Chocolate Plant-Protein Powder 2 cups chocolate almond milk 1 tbsp. almond butter 1 cup ice Blend and enjoy this dreamy chocolate smoothie!