Somewhere along the line, chocolate got a bad reputation, particularly for causing weight gain. But dark chocolate, in moderation, is actually a very healthy choice for a sweet treat. If you’re having chocolate this Valentine’s Day, or any day for that matter, you don’t need to feel bad about it. Here’s why.
Chock-Full of Nutrients
Dark chocolate, which is made by harvesting seeds from the cocoa tree, is rich in nutrients. A bite of a dark chocolate with a rating of at least 70% cacao will contain fiber, iron, copper, potassium, and magnesium.
It will also yield helpful fatty acids and a small amount of caffeine, which can make it a nice afternoon snack to get you through the end of the workday.
A high quality dark chocolate packs pretty powerful antioxidants. In fact, studies have shown that dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than many other foods, including fruits.
Beyond its antioxidant benefits, dark chocolate assists blood flow in the arteries, due to its flavanols. Better blood flow can translate to benefits like healthier, more resilient skin and reduced inflammation. Studies indicate that flavanols may improve slight memory loss. Chocolate has also been linked to mood improvement and aiding in PMS symptom relief.
Cooking with Chocolate
One of the best things about chocolate, in terms of cooking, is how versatile it is. Of course, you can reap the above benefits by snacking on a couple pieces of a dark chocolate bar. But you can also experiment with recipes like this one for fudge walnut brownies. Or try making your own granola bars and incorporating some dark chocolate chunks.
However you choose to indulge, remember to look for high quality chocolate with at least 70% cacao and to consume it in moderation. Keeping these goals in mind, whether it’s Valentine’s Day or a regular afternoon or evening, have a Forrest Gump-worthy snack and enjoy it in good health.
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