T’is the Season for Chocolate!

It’s close to Easter and you know what that means – chocolate, peeps, candies and more chocolate! I do not want to rain on your parade for this chocolate season by stating all the negative facts about chocolate, so I will embrace the fact that we will all be enjoying that glorious rendition of the cocoa bean and try to direct your attention towards the benefits of dark chocolate.

DARK CHOCOLATE

How dark? Dark Chocolate should be more than 60% cocoa and made with cocoa butter instead of additional fats like palm oil and with little to no added sugar. Also look for chocolate made with fairly traded cocoa beans.

Lowers blood pressure:
In dark chocolate only, the amazing plant phenols are shown to reduce blood pressure in adults who had mild high blood pressure

Packed with powerful antioxidants:
Contains flavonoids called procyanidins & epicatechins which are polyphenols that pair up free radicals in the body that are destructive in the body and may lead to certain diseases in the future

Improves mood and reduces stress:
Cocoa may boost serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain that helps in uplifting mood

Good for blood
Increases blood flow in the arteries and reduces the risk of blood clots

What are polyphenols and flavonoids? 

I mention these a lot and when reading about good nutrition, these words will come up often.  Polyphenols are compounds that plants produce that have health benefits in the body. Flavonoids are one sort of polyphenol that have antioxidant (prevents cells from oxidizing) properties in plants and in the human body. These compounds may help protect our bodies from harmful environmental substances called free radicals. 

How does Dark Chocolate compare to Milk Chocolate? 

If you MUST eat chocolate this Easter, the optimal choice would be dark chocolate. However, do not over indulge! Although dark chocolate has many nutritional benefits, it is also accompanies many calories. 1 oz of dark chocolate will suffice to achieve these benefits and if you are sensitive to caffeine, be sure to enjoy earlier in the day as dark chocolate has much more caffeine than milk chocolate. Remember, the greater the amount of cocoa, the greater the nutritional quality of the chocolate. Bon appetit!