I read an interesting history of chocolate on the blog Afternoon Tea and it got me thinking about…chocolate. I love chocolate. I can resist sugared treats and salted treats, but I give into chocolate!
The chocolate industry would have us believe that chocolate is good for us. Hoping that is indeed the case I decided to do a little research, and I like what I found. However, we are talking about dark chocolate, not milk or white chocolate.
The health benefits from chocolate comes from the cocoa plant and dark chocolate has 65% more cocoa than milk chocolate. Since chocolate is made from plants, it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables including antioxidants. Dark chocolate contains almost 8 times the antioxidants as strawberries.
Dark chocolate is good for your heart. A little bit everyday (3.5 oz of dark chocolate without the caramel, nougat, peanut butter, etc) can help lower blood pressure and reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol.
And it is true, dark chocolate is therapeutic! It stimulates endorphin production, giving us a feeling of pleasure; it contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant, and it contains theobromine, caffeine and other substances which are stimulants.
While chocolate does indeed have fat, only 1/3 of the fat in chocolate is bad for for our cholesterol. 1/3 of the fat (Oleic Acid) is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is also found in olive oil, 1/3 is Stearic Acid which research has shown to be neither good nor bad, and only 1/3 is a saturated fat that raises cholesterol — pretty good odds!
But (there are always buts), these health benefits are only for DARK chocolate. We only want to consume 3.5 oz of dark chocolate a day for maximum benefit and we need to balance out those 200+ calories by eliminating something else from our diet. And lastly — some research shows that drinking a glass of milk with chocolate could prevent the antioxidants being absorbed or used by your body, thereby negating the heart healthy effects. There we go again with milk being the enemy.