It's more than wishful thinking — chocolate can be good for you. Studies show that eating chocolate, primarily dark chocolate, may contribute to improved cardiovascular health. Packed with natural antioxidants, dark chocolate and cocoa sit in the same good-for-you category as green tea and blueberries. That's because chocolate comes from cacao beans (or cocoa beans), which grow on the cacao tree and are full of natural plant nutrients. Most of the studies to date highlight dark chocolate's health values because it has the highest percentage of cocoa solids, therefore more flavanol antioxidants.
Dark chocolate is densely packed with antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are responsible for the cellular damage that causes chronic illness and premature aging. It is also loaded with magnesium, a mineral most of us are deficient in. Magnesium is vital to 300 of the body’s enzymatic reactions and magnesium deficiency is connected to anxiety, insomnia, autoimmune disease, muscle twitches, neurological conditions and heart and kidney disease.
Achieving better health through dark chocolate isn’t as simple as grabbing a candy bar from the nearest vending machine. To truly enjoy the life-enriching benefits of this food, there are a few prerequisites to keep in mind.
Is at least 70% pure cocoa
Is cold-pressed instead of roasted
Has not been alkalized
Contains no artificial sweeteners or refined sugars (natural, low-glycemic raw cane sugar is best.
Contains cocoa butter instead of hydrogenated oils or milk fats
Organic dark chocolate is the best choice. Unlike brand-name candy bars, organic dark chocolate steers clear of dangerous additives like aspartame and high fructose corn syrup, which can cause the health problems you’re trying to avoid.
Though it may be tempting to wash down this decadent treat with a tall glass of milk, this is not recommended. Studies show milk may interfere with antioxidant absorption. Instead, boost your health even further by reaching for a glass of resveratrol-rich red wine!
It has been said people who consume just 3 squares of dark chocolate per day enjoy healthier skin (contrary to a popular myth, chocolate does not cause acne), calmer moods and deeper sleep.
Dark chocolate is heart healthy too! Studies show that consuming just a small bar of it can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol by up to 10 percent.
On a diet? Great news! Dark chocolate can aid in weight loss by eliminating your cravings for processed foods and providing essential dietary fiber, providing that “full” feeling with a lot less food!
So, what are you waiting for? Ignore all those chocolate no-nos and indulge your way to a healthier, happier, slimmer you!
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