Chocolate. What comes to mind when you hear this word? Perhaps it stirs memories of a heart-shaped box received Valentine's Day or the fun of munching the ears off an Easter bunny. Do you tend to savor this most decadent of foods or wolf it down on your lunch break along with feelings of guilt? Well, feel guilty no longer! Chocolate isn't a no-no. It's good for you! Read on to discover the surprising health benefits of dark chocolate.
Dark Chocolate's Secret Ingredients
Dark chocolate is densely packed with antioxidants that fight free radicals in the body. Free radicals are responsible for the cellular damage that causes chronic illness and premature aging. It is also loaded with magnesium, a mineral most of us are deficient in. Magnesium is vital to 300 of the body's enzymatic reactions and magnesium deficiency is connected to anxiety, insomnia, autoimmune disease, muscle twitches, neurological conditions and heart and kidney disease.
The Best Dark Chocolate
Achieving better health through dark chocolate isn't as simple as grabbing a candy bar from the nearest vending machine. To truly enjoy the life-enriching benefits of this food, there are a few prerequisites to keep in mind.
Look for dark chocolate that:
- Is at least 70% pure cocoa
- Is cold-pressed instead of roasted
- Has not been alkalized
- Contains no artificial sweeteners or refined sugars (natural, low-glycemic raw cane sugar is best.)
- Contains cocoa butter instead of hydrogenated oils or milk fats
Organic dark chocolate is the best choice. Unlike brand-name candy bars, organic dark chocolate steers clear of dangerous additives like aspartame and high fructose corn syrup, which can cause the health problems you're trying to avoid. It has been said people who consume just 3 squares of dark chocolate per day enjoy healthier skin (contrary to a popular myth, chocolate does not cause acne), calmer moods and deeper sleep.
Dark chocolate is heart healthy too! Studies show that consuming just a small bar of it can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol by up to 10 percent.
On a diet? Great news! Dark chocolate can aid in weight loss by eliminating your cravings for processed foods and providing essential dietary fiber, providing that "full" feeling with a lot less food!
So, what are you waiting for? Ignore all those chocolate no-nos and indulge your way to a healthier, happier, slimmer you!