The potential health benefits of dark chocolate continue to be the subject of numerous research trials and vast media coverage. Studies have linked the intake of dark chocolate and cocoa with a decrease in LDL (bad cholesterol) resulting in reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Studies also suggest eating chocolate may help increase HDL (good cholesterol), reduce blood pressure and lower blood sugar levels.
When deciding which delicacy to indulge in, it’s important to note that all chocolate is not created equal! To get the most health benefits, select a product with a cocoa/cacao percentage of 70 or higher. This may be a very different experience for you if you’ve never tasted it before. Chocolate with a high cacao percentage generally tastes bitter when compared to those of lower percentages which often have added fats and sweeteners to make them more palatable. Milk chocolate is not a good choice due to the added sugar and fat. White chocolate, which does not contain cocoa solids, does not offer any of the heart healthy benefits.
While there have not been any recommendations set for the amount of chocolate we should consume daily, research has shown that it doesn’t take much to enjoy the heart healthy benefits. Choose a “dose” of one ounce (about 30 grams) of good quality dark chocolate per day which is equal to 2 ½ tablespoons of chocolate chips or 3 small Ghirardelli squares. Eating larger amounts will only provide excess calories which ultimately outweigh the benefits.
In addition to following a well balanced diet and getting plenty of exercise, indulge yourself in a delicious treat that’s good for your body and your mind.
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