Chocolate: Safe or Scary?
Chocolate season is upon us. Whether you're nibbling on the assorteds from a red satin box or your kids are popping mini hearts bequeathed by adoring schoolmates, chances are there's chocolate in your house somewhere. So should you worry about this Valentine's Day staple, given chocolate is sweet and oh-so-fatty? Or is chocolate now kind of a healthy choice, thanks to those studies showing how this food of the gods can actually lower blood pressure?
Dark Chocolate: Studies have shown that dark chocolate containing a high percentage of cocoa (70 percent or more) does in fact do good things for us. Thanks to the flavonoids and antioxidants found in cocoa, chocolate not only has the potential to lower blood pressure, but it also can reduce diabetes risk and improve cardiovascular health. This doesn't mean that you should feel free to down a king-size bar, however. Even high-quality dark chocolate is full of calories and fat. Savor just a few squares a day.
Milk Chocolate: When it comes to health benefits, milk chocolate is a distant second to dark chocolate. It contains much less cocoa and a lot more sugar. If you're munching on a milk chocolate bar, you should continue to think of it as candy rather than as an antioxidant-rich dietary supplement.
White Chocolate: Forget it. White chocolate doesn't contain any cocoa solids, so it has no health benefits whatsoever.
Cacao Beans/ Raw Chocolate: What's this? According to David Wolfe, raw foods guru and author of "Naked Chocolate," chocolate in its most natural state is one of the absolute healthiest and most nutrient-dense foods on the planet. If you eat either raw cacao beans (they're super bitter, but can be ground in with your coffee beans, blended into smoothies, and more), or raw chocolate made with unroasted beans, you'll get a strong dose of iron, magnesium, chromium, vitamin C, fiber, and chemicals that act as antidepressants. Now that's chocolate we can all love.
Jennifer Schonborn is a holistic nutrition counselor, certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. Sign up for her newsletter and free consultation at jenniferschonborn.com.
Related: Chocolate Valentine's Day Gifts - Think Outside the Box
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