For those of us who are trying to eat healthfully, but love sweets, sometimes rely on chocolate because it contains antioxidants and super food elements. It is true that in moderation, chocolate is actually very good for you! The high amount of flavanols in good quality chocolate help lower blood pressure and vascular function, improve cognitive function, and provides UV protection for our skin. Dark chocolate has a higher proportion of flavanols than milk chocolate, because a higher percentage of cacao means more flavanols.
This is all wonderful information for chocolate-lovers, however; chocolate is not without calories and a small box of chocolates can derail all of our efforts for healthy living. Have leftover Valentine’s candy lying around? We’ve put together some information about the good, bad and the ugly when it comes to this delicious confection.
When selecting your chocolate make sure you skip the low quality, high in fat and dairy, milk chocolate options, which tend to be much higher in calories and opt for something dark. The darker the chocolate and the higher the cacao percentage, the better it is for you. The same is true for chocolate desserts. Donâ€™t buy chocolate that says, â€œprocessed with alkaliâ€ on the nutrition label, because the flavanol count will be significantly less. Also stay away from any chocolate with corn syrup, artificial flavors, fillers, and dyes. These products contain a ton of sugar, fat, chemicals and calories that you absolutely donâ€™t need!
Dark chocolate is the true healthy winner in the chocolate realm. There are so many varieties on the market currently. We love chocolate that has been flavored with herbs, fragrant oils, or spices. They are a delicious change from plain dark chocolate.
Some additional tips:
â€¢Avoid candy chocolate bars, milkshakes, chocolate drinks with alcohol, filled chocolates, truffles, chocolate with milk solids, and chocolate pastries.
â€¢When cooking, find chocolate that uses a sugar substitute. Or, you can make chocolate desserts using pure coco powder and alternative, low calorie, low fat, and low sugar ingredients to make it lower in total carbohydrates.
â€¢Moderation is key. Stick to a solid bar of dark chocolate and limit yourself to two squares at treat time.
â€¢Sprinkle raw cacao powder or nibs on fruit for a yummy, healthy dessert.
â€¢Drink your chocolate! Sugar-free hot chocolate with a dark, high quality cocoa can really nip your craving in the bud.
So, enjoy your chocolate, but watch the quantity and the ingredients! You donâ€™t have to give it up Â and youâ€™ll receive many positive benefits from it, where other sweet treats fail.