Chocolate for Valentines. Chocolate for Health.

I was just reading one of my favorite blogs by Dr Ann Louise Gittleman.  She brought up chocolate and I thought I’d do the same.

Lots and lots of people LOVE chocolate.   Some love it a bit too much.  But the right chocolate, in moderation, has a lot to offer.

But let’s be clear, it has to be the right kind of chocolate.  Milk chocolate and white chocolate are NOT the right kind.  The cocoa content is minimal and the sugar content is too high.

Dark chocolate is the right kind of chocolate.  But it needs to be at least 60% cocoa.

For those hooked on milk or white chocolate (you’re really just hooked on sugar), dark chocolate can take some getting used to.  But once you find a brand you like you will never go back to the sugary pseudo-chocolates again.  Ok, never is a bit strong, but your preference will be for the dark stuff.

So what’s so great about dark chocolate?  Quoting from Gittleman’s blog:

“Cocoa—from which chocolate is derived—is a rich source of heart-protective compounds called flavonoids. Flavonoids—also found in Fat Flushing foods like cranberries, berries, apples, and onions—are key plant-protecting shields from environmental toxins and aid in repairing damage. When we consume flavonoid-based foods, we derive the same benefits as the plant.

The special type of flavonoids in cocoa are called flavanols. They are superb at preventing fatty substances from turning into plaque in the arteries. Flavanols valiantly protect the arterial wall from buildup created by the undesirable LDLs (low density lipoprotein) or “bad” cholesterol. In addition, by making blood platelets less sticky, you are reducing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and blood clots.

And let’s not forget that cocoa is a decent source of magnesium, one of the key minerals for a healthy heart in the first place. For years I have been telling my clients that chocolate cravings may be a sign of magnesium deficiency!

Perhaps the most important benefit that high quality chocolate bestows upon health is its ability to modulate nitric oxide. Nitric Oxide is essential for balancing blood pressure and blood flow. It may also have the ability to improve insulin sensitivity thus forestalling metabolic syndrome.”

There you have it.  Lot’s to love about dark chocolate.  Definitely worth making the switch.

My favorite dark chocolate bar is “Trader Joe’s dark chocolate – 73% cacao super dark chocolate with almonds“.

I just break off one or two pieces and enjoy.  A little goes a long way.

And I like that it has almonds – more to love!

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