Who can resist a decadent slab of dark chocolate, or a sweet bar of creamy milk chocolate?
It’s tough to resist the urge to indulge, especially during times of celebration and holidays. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, many people will be gifted with a beautiful heart-shaped box full of sweet temptation.
Candy and junk food can contribute to poor health outcomes in people young and old, from tooth decay, excess weight and low bone density.
While there’s little debate on if the rich snack is delicious, we’re taking a look at some potential health benefits to this sweet indulgence when consumed in moderation.
Chocolate to the Rescue
Some claim that chocolate has many of the same health benefits as dark vegetables (it’s made from a plant, after all!). While we’re not advising you to go on a chocolate-binge, we know that chocolate is high in antioxidants which can protect you from ageing and damage that leads to heart disease.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals (molecules that are highly reactive and unstable) which can damage cells, clog arteries, and contribute to chronic illness and ageing. Dark chocolate, in particular, contains nearly 8 times the antioxidants than strawberries!
Speaking of dark chocolate…
The Darker the Better
Dark chocolate can have some great health benefits, especially for your heart! A small bar every day can help keep both your heart and cardiovascular system pumping by lowering both cholesterol and blood pressure.
There are many types of dark chocolate with different cocoa percentages (65% or higher) and even additional ingredients like sea salt, nuts, or orange. For the most benefits, go for a quality dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content.
Your Brain Will Thank You
Feeling better after a bite of chocolate is chemical.
- Nitric oxide: a molecule that helps balance certain hormones in the body
- Serotonin: a hormone with anti-depressant properties
- Theopromine: a stimulant.
Chocolate also stimulates endorphin production, which gives you that happy boost!
But, All in Moderation!
While these health benefits are great reasons to indulge a little, moderation is crucial. Because of its high calorie count, chocolate contains a large quantities of sugar. In large amounts this can cause tooth decay, and may have links to low bone density in older women.
Small amounts of chocolate and a well balanced diet with exercise can lessen some health risks and keep you on track for a happy, healthy (and sweet!) life.