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Sweet: The nutritional value of dark chocolate
Listen to this, friends: According to a new study, being a chocoholic might be a component of a healthy lifestyle. Eating two ounces (50 grams) a day of plain dark chocolate has been found to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Plus, it tastes great! After all, who doesn’t crave chocolate?
You probably noticed that I qualified the type of chocolate that provided the most benefit — dark chocolate. You see, that’s because dark chocolate (not milk, not white) provides a high-quality source of bioflavonoids that appear to have the ability to maintain cardiovascular health, as well as provide strong antioxidant benefits. For example, a 1 1/2-ounce square of chocolate may have as many antioxidants as a 5-ounce glass of red wine.
Chocolate can be processed in a number of ways, and the manner in which it is processed has a major effect on its nutritional value. In general, the more processed the chocolate, the less cocoa it has. It’s the cocoa bean that has the most nutritional value because it's the source of the majority of the bioflavonoids.
Flavonoids are often also found in wine, fruits and vegetables. These flavonoids have been shown to reduce the amount of cell damage often implicated in heart disease. Flavonoids also help improve vascular function and can assist in lowering blood pressure.
White chocolate (which isn’t really chocolate) is the least nutritious of the three; it contains no cocoa at all. Milk chocolate's basically good for expanding your hips and gut.
However, just because dark chocolate has nutritional value does not give you a license to go on a chocolate binge. Eating more dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure, but you’ll have to balance the extra calories by eating less of other things.
So how do you choose the best dark chocolate? Choose dark chocolate varieties that contain at least 65 percent cacao.
Remember to be smart about consuming chocolate and make sure you aren’t removing nutritious options from your regular meal plan so that you can eat more chocolate.
Instead, limit yourself to no more than one or two ounces of dark chocolate per day, and look for ways to incorporate it into other healthy dishes.
Fresh fruit, low-fat yogurt and high fiber cereal are just a few nutritious dishes that a sprinkle of chocolate would pair well with.
Since fruits and vegetables are rich not only in flavonoids but also in many other nutrients, add more of these items to your diet, as well, and you won't have to worry about going too overboard with the sweets.