Are you a fan of chocolate? Well that is a DUMB question…you are a WOMAN! Of course you are a fan of chocolate! We know there are the few exceptions out there of women who don’t crave its velvety, smooth goodness, but for those of you who are chocolate-obsessed…let’s break it down and take away some of your guilt around eating this indulgence.
It’s important to note that chocolate, like any treat, should be consumed in moderation. So don’t finish reading this article and raid your local drug store for the rest of their Valentine’s Day stash! That said, if you want to indulge and cater to your sweet tooth, chocolate is a great way to do so and will even offer you some health benefits.
WHAT ARE SOME HEALTH BENEFITS OF CHOCOLATE?
According to Healthline , there are several benefits to eating the RIGHT kind of chocolate. These include:
Quality dark chocolate is chock full of iron, fiber, magnesium and other essential minerals
Dark chocolate is a great source of antioxidants
Flavanols in dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure
Dark chocolate can improve several risk factors against heart disease
Dark chocolate can protect your skin from the sun
Dark chocolate can improve brain functionality
NOT ALL CHOCOLATE IS CREATED EQUAL
As noted above, when it comes to health benefits, dark chocolate is the way to go. The darker the better! In fact, you want to stick with chocolates that are at least 65% cacao . Milk chocolate contains milk powder or condensed milk and is only required to have a 25% basis of cocoa . Therefore, when you eat milk chocolate, you are not getting the same health benefits as you do when you eat a darker chocolate.
BEST PRACTICES AROUND CHOCOLATE CONSUMPTION
If you find yourself desiring chocolate on a regular basis, don’t deny yourself that opportunity. The more you deny yourself anything, the more likely you are to over-indulge . Here are some practical tips you can implement to enjoy this treat and still stay focused on a healthy lifestyle:
- Pay attention to the ingredients. Discover what level of dark chocolate you like best (65%, 80%, 90%?). If you can buy organic or sustainably sourced chocolate that is always a great option. Do you like almonds or sea salt? Find a variety that satiates your palate best!
- Break the bar into individual squares and store in your cupboard or refrigerator. If the pieces of chocolate are already broken up, you are more likely to eat just one and not feel compelled to consume the whole bar in one sitting. Take it one step further by setting a guideline for yourself daily, such as no more than 2 squares per day.
- Savor each bite. Take the time to enjoy the taste on your tongue. Chew slowly. Let the flavor consume your pleasure sensors as you eat it.
- Add some high-quality dark cocoa to your morning coffee! This is a great way to get the flavor of chocolate without all of the sugar you would get from a Café Mocha at your local coffee shop.
- Sprinkle melted dark chocolate over berries or nuts for an additional sweet treat to keep on hand. Just like everything else, when you plan ahead and have treats on hand that are good choices, you are less likely to binge on crap when your next sweet tooth craving hits!
The bottom line is that chocolate is a great source of nutrients and flavor that many of us enjoy. Make it a worthwhile experience and treat yourself right when it comes to enjoying this decadence.