Dark Chocolate – Sweet and Good for You!
Most people have heard that dark chocolate can be good for you, and there are several reasons to include it in your diet!
It can lower your risk for diabetes by helping to stabilize blood sugar and reduce insulin resistance.
Dark chocolate can also help improve mental function and brain health and has been shown to boost mood and help with stress relief. Epicatechin from dark chocolate lowers inflammation in your central nervous system which protects against stroke.
Dark chocolate can lower heart attack risk by reducing platelet aggravation (safely lowering clotting factors to reduce the chance of a blood clot).
Dark chocolate also actually helps to reduce anxiety and depression!
So how do you know if you are getting the real deal? It is all about the “cacao” percentage which is listed on packaging for any high-quality chocolate. Cacao contains many different types of polyphenols which are phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that are potent anti-oxidants. Polyphenols give fruits, berries and vegetables their bright colors, and protect plants (and us if we eat them!) from ultraviolet radiation, pathogens and harsh climatic conditions.
In humans, polyphenols produce a range of benefits including:
Fighting cancer cells and inhibiting angiogenesis (growth of new blood vessels that feed tumors)
Reduce free radicals and can reduce the appearance of aging
Protect the cardiovascular system
Protect the skin from sun damage
Protect the brain including helping prevent dementia
Help keep blood pressure in the normal range
Some of the most beneficial polyphenols are flavonoids from dark chocolate. These flavonoids give dark chocolate its bitter taste. The higher the polyphenol level the more bitter the taste of the chocolate.
Getting the most from Dark Chocolate
As mentioned previously choose dark chocolate’s with high levels of cacao – 70% or higher. It is great to eat chocolate 2 – 3 times per day to keep polyphenol levels elevated all day, BUT a little goes a long way and more is not better so watch how much you eat!
Last but not least the more minimally processed the chocolate is the better and organic minimally processed chocolate is the best!