Did you know that September 13th is International Chocolate Day? Not that we needed an excuse to indulge in our favorite treat! With a little research, we’ve even uncovered some healthy reasons to satisfy your cravings – it turns out that chocolate is packed with flavanols, which are powerful antioxidants. Keep in mind, however, that all chocolate is not created equal.
When shopping for quality dark chocolate, look for one with a minimum of 70% cocoa (or cacao) content. Avoid brands that are “Dutched” or “alkali processed”. While this procedure tempers bitterness, it also removes many of the flavanols from chocolate.
In order to reap any health benefits, you need to be a smart shopper and consume in moderation – 1.5 to 3 ounces daily is a good range, as this is what most health studies have used. Here are our top 5 reasons to enjoy a square of dark chocolate every day:
- Chocolate Protects the Skin. In one study, the skin of subjects who ate high flavanol chocolate took twice as long to burn in the sun compared to the control group.
- Chocolate Is Good For Your Heart. Consuming dark chocolate has been linked to restored flexibility to arteries, as well as preventing white blood cells from adhering to blood vessel walls.
- Chocolate May Aid Weight Loss. Studies have shown many weight loss benefits related to dark chocolate consumption, including reduced cravings, appetite, and body fat, among other perks.
- Chocolate Reduces Stress. Dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which triggers the body to produce endorphins, those feel-good hormones.
- Chocolate Boosts Brain Power. Flavanols in dark chocolate may help with age-related memory loss, or even help those with brain injury.
Looking for a decadent dark chocolate treat to whip up in your kitchen that’s fast and delicious? Try this recipe for Spicy Orange Hazelnut Chocolate Bark from Bon Appetit – just make sure to use chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. Once you’ve mastered this variety, mix up the kinds of nut and fruit ingredients added to customize to your palate and desired health benefits!
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