In a time when the over consumption of sugar is all over the news, hearing of a healthy dessert is music to those with a sweet tooth’s ears. One such treat, is dark chocolate. Many health studies have shown a number of ways in which a small amount of dark chocolate can be good for you. So next time you feel a hankering for an after dinner treat, indulge in some squares of dark chocolate. You can satiate your craving without the guilt.
One of the many nutrients in dark chocolate, is theobromine. Theobromine is an alkaloid found in the cacao plant. It’s responsible for that bitter taste you get in especially dark chocolate. There’s a number of health benefits associated with theobromine. The most noted, and useful of these benefits, is its use as an anti-inflammatory. It’s vasodilating, or blood vessel widening, properties, make it a great treatment for people with high blood-pressure. It’s also a diuretic, assisting those with urinary issues. The alkaloid also works as a mild heart stimulant.
Flavonoids are another healthy ingredient found in dark chocolate. The most abundant of these flavonoids are called flavonols. Flavonols are a powerful antioxidant, helping to repair cells, and enable them to function normally. In addition to being an antioxidant, flavonols have numerous benefits for heart health. They improve circulation to the heart and brain, and reduce the stickiness in blood platelets, also known as aggregation. Reduced aggregation of blood platelets, means less of a risk of blood clots, and other health issues.
The flavonoids found in chocolate have many other benefits as well. In addition to antioxidants, and heart-healthy attributes, flavonoids help stabilize blood sugar. Flavonoids assist your cells’ ability to function naturally, and thus help alleviate insulin resistance, allowing your body to use insulin properly. Dark chocolate is also low on the glycemic index, truly making it an ideal dessert.
If you’re looking to reduce your sugar intake, and who isn’t, a few squares of dark chocolate is the perfect desert. With all of its many health benefits, it’s a treat you can feel good about. With that in mind, it’s important to remember that all chocolate is not created equal. The health benefits mentioned above, are only present in dark chocolate that’s %70 cocoa or above. Too much sugar or dairy in the chocolate greatly reduces, if not nullifies its health benefits. Even very dark chocolate has some fat and sugar in it, so limit your intake to a few squares a day to absorb all of the benefits, without so many of the unhealthy attributes. Finally, a tasty treat you can feel good about.
Emily Manke is a health and lifestyle blogger in Portland, OR. Her interests include biking, hiking, cooking, gardening. She is a bit of a health-nut, and loves learning about all things health-related. She sometimes contributes to the blog for these boulder co dentists.