The Healthy Benefits of Chocolate
by Lisa Metzgar, PhD
Valentine’s Day is the season for love and chocolate. Who doesn’t like getting a big red heart shaped box of chocolate as a token of your loved one’s affection. Good news there are health benefits to eating chocolate! Make sure this Valentine’s Day you choose the healthy chocolate to give your loved ones.
The healthiest choice for your gift of love is dark chocolate. Milk chocolate and white chocolate don’t have all the health benefits that a rich dark chocolate contains. Choose dark chocolate that contains more than 65% cocoa content. Cocoa is a plant and contains flavonoids that act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from the aging effects of free radicals. Cocoa has 8x more antioxidants than strawberries. How about some dark chocolate covered strawberries as a special healthy treat!
There is a lot of fat in chocolate. The good news is about 2/3 of the fat in chocolate is “healthy fat”. There are 3 types of fat in dark chocolate. Oleic acid is a healthy monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFU) that is also found in olive oil. Oleic acid helps lower LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and raise HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol). Stearic acid is a saturated fat but has a neutral effect on cholesterol. Palmitic acid is a saturated fat that does raise cholesterol levels and heart risks. That being said as with any good thing you must eat in moderation. The high-fat content makes it a high-calorie food. There are about 200 calories in a 3 ½frac12; oz. serving. Make sure you take this into account when totaling your daily calorie needs. When eating your 3 ½frac12; oz. serving every day, eat it slowly to savor the rich textures and tastes.
The feelings of love you get when you eat chocolate aren’t just about Valentine’s Day. Chocolate stimulates the release of several hormones when consumed. Endorphins are released which brings feelings of pleasure and serotonin acts as an antidepressant. Chocolate contains magnesium which brings a sense of calm. Chocolate also contains theobromine and caffeine which are stimulants. So it isn’t just in your head…you really do get good feelings from eating chocolate!
So, enjoy your dark chocolate this Valentine’s Day and every day. Something that is good for you and decadent!
More About Nutrition:
LisaMetzgar, PhD,she received her BA in Biology from UCSD, is a certified Holistic Health Practitioner, and received her Ph.D. in Holistic Nutrition.
Lisa has taught body mind retreats in San Diego, Seattle, and Australia and currently has a practice in Reno, NV where she does nutrition counseling.Lisa's passion is to educate families about a healthy lifestyle.
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