Why to Heart Chocolate

Ok, so we’ve all heard the claims about how chocolate is good for our health.  But how much of it is true and how much of it is a Valentine’s Day sale tactic?  Here’s the choco-lowdown.

Not all chocolate is created equal.  To get the benefits from chocolate, stick to the dark kind.  Even better…cocoa powder. (Mmmm…hot chocolate!)  Milk chocolate is fine, but not as healthy.  And forget about the white stuff…there’s no cocao in it at all.

It’s all about the flavo(noids).  The darker the chocolate, the more flavonoids it contains.  Flavonoids act like anti-oxidents and are the reason chocolate can be healthy. 

Understanding the Chocolate Label.  Store shelves are chock full of chocolate bars containing 75% or even 85% cocoa.  What that refers to is the percentage of cacao bean solids present in the bar.  The more cacao, the less sugar. So:
• A 75% cacao bar has 25% sugar.
• A 65% cacao bar has 35% sugar.
• The higher the % cacao, the less sweet the bar and the stronger the chocolate taste.

You don’t need to eat those bars to reap the benefits.  Ever try one of those 75% cocao bars?  If you liked it, great.  If not, don’t worry.  While it’s true those bars contain more flavonoids, why eat chocolate you don’t like?  The point is to indulge in something you enjoy!  Remember, even milk chocolate has some benefits…just be careful not to over indulge because it does contain more sugar and fat.

So, what are those benefits? Those flavonoids I’ve been talking about have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease by enhancing blood flow, improving LDL cholesterol levels and, in some cases, reducing blood pressure.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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