Just hearing the word makes my mouth water. It’s one of those sweets that has the power to change moods, become addictive and drive billions of dollars in sales each year. It’s a treat that is commonly thought to be bad for your health…however is that really true?
There are both advantages and disadvantages to eating chocolate on a regular basis. If you know the facts, however, you will become a more educated consumer. This means you’ll know how much (and how often to indulge) – while still reaping some pretty awesome health benefits.
Why Dark Chocolate?
Most health experts would agree that dark chocolate is the best option when it comes to being healthy…but have you ever wondered why? First off, dark chocolate is more nutritionally sound than other alternatives. It lacks all the added “fillers” a.k.a milk, sugar, etc. to increase the sweet taste. Some people dislike dark chocolate for this very reason, however the benefits are surprising.
- High antioxidant content
- Rich source of flavonoids
- Good supply of Manganese
- High copper content
- Moderate amounts of fiber
Hmm, not bad! If you’re wondering how flavonoids, manganese and copper are beneficial to your body, then keep reading. Up until recently, I didn’t even know what a flavonoid was. Lots of research helped me understand more.
A flavonoid is a type of plant metabolite. In other words, it’s a molecule that assists the plant in regulating metabolism. It’s what gives the plant it’s rich color, producing the redness in apples or the purple color in grapes. Flavonoids are commonly found in blueberries, citrus fruits, black tea and parsley. They are useful to our bodies because of their antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cholesterol-regulating qualities.
Another interesting fact about flavonoids is that some doctors are using it to assist in treating cancer. Their heart-healthy and free-radical-fighting qualities are very beneficial if consumed over a period of time in the right amount.
The higher the percentage of cacao in dark chocolate, the greater antioxidant and flavonoid content
A good rule of thumb when buying dark chocolate is to shoot for at least 70% cacao. This results in less added sweeteners, contributing to a more bitter taste. It may take some getting used to, but embracing the bitterness (little by little) will help you tremendously in developing a taste for dark chocolate.
Also, don’t forget to read the nutritional labels! Some brands are more processed than others. It’s always a good idea to glance over the sugar, saturated fat and nutrient content before buying.
Another benefit to dark chocolate is it’s high copper content. Although merely a trace mineral, copper is needed by our bodies for assisting with red blood cell formation, maintaining healthy immune systems and preventing bone-degenerating diseases like osteoporosis. It also benefits your cardiovascular health by helping regulate HDL and LDL levels (the good and bad cholesterol types).
Overall, consuming dark chocolate will assist your liver with regulating the correct amount of copper in your bloodstream. Simply eating 3 oz of dark chocolate will hit your total daily need for copper – and then some!
Manganese is another trace mineral found in the body. Although not needed in huge quantities, it is essential for helping your body maintain proper metabolism, fighting off free radical damaging effects and maintaining bone health. It also helps your brain and nerves function more efficiently.
It’s a known fact that most Americans struggle to reach their daily intake of essential nutrients. Since copper and manganese are both trace minerals, it can be even harder to squeeze these two into your daily diet. One serving of dark chocolate is all you need to fix this.
How much is Too Much?
Unfortunately, the recommended serving size of dark chocolate consumed per day is no more than 1-2 oz. I know, I know…a little disappointing. This is usually the size of one chocolate square.
Now before you get too disappointed, remember that
Moderation is Key
Just like anything else you eat, don’t utterly gorge on something to the point of getting sick. Consuming too much dark chocolate can be detrimental to your health. Since it’s so calorie dense, it has the potential to cause weight gain if not kept in check.
Want the secret to living healthy without making yourself miserable? Read How to Get Fit Now – The Underlying Hack.
What about Milk Chocolate and White Chocolate?
Since we just spent some time discussing the benefits of dark chocolate, now it’s time to turn our attention to white chocolate (what you’re probably more interested in). So what are the benefits of this sugary stuff that’s so addictive?
Not to be a debbie downer, but milk chocolate is not nearly as healthy as dark chocolate because of the decreased cacao content. Dark chocolate is naturally going to be healthier, since most of the nutrients, flavonoids and antioxidants found in it are concentrated in the cacao content.
Does this mean you can’t enjoy milk chocolate though?
Of course not! Food is meant for our sustenance and enjoyment. As long as you consume nutritious, healthy foods most of the time (the 80/20 rule is a good one) then you will be doing your body a huge service.
Concerning white chocolate…if you didn’t already know, it’s technically not a chocolate at all. Surprised? The sweetness of it doesn’t come from cocoa powder at all, but instead cocoa butter, milk solids, lots of fat, sugar, sugar, sugar and MORE sugar. Personally, I love white chocolate. Over time, however, I have come to realize how dark chocolate is so much better for my health.
Have I stopped consuming white chocolate you may ask?
Absolutely not. I have, however, built up a good momentum by choosing dark chocolate over white chocolate when the cravings hit. It has not only improved my self-control, but has also boosted my self-confidence.
Read Finding Happiness – Unlock Your Inner Magic for some tips on how to improve your self-confidence and happiness.
Conclusion – Is Dark Chocolate Really Beneficial to Your Health?
Overall, the answer is YES…under one condition. You have to make sure you are consuming the correct type and amount. Do that and you will realize that it’s absolutely possible to stay fit now and forever while enjoying the things you love.
What types of chocolate are YOUR favorite? Comment below!