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Chocolate: Friend or Foe?

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Ahh chocolate. People all over the world LOVE chocolate. So if you are one of those people-you may feel even better about eating it once you know more!

Did you know that historians have estimated that chocolate has been around for approximately 2,000 years- possibly even longer? 

People have long been enjoying this sweet treat for YEARS!

And one question that has remained- is it actually good for us?

While we know that too much of it can cause weight gain and a high calorie intake- it comes with a surprising amount of good qualities as well- of course when eaten in moderation.

The main benefit of chocolate is for your HEART!

But not just ANY chocolate.

Most of the benefits of chocolate lies within DARK chocolate as opposed to milk or white chocolate. But hey- we will take it if it means we can eat chocolate and feel good about it!

To have health benefits- dark chocolate must contain 50% cocoa or higher. Ideally 70-80%.

Cocoa is rich in plant chemicals called flavanols that may help to protect the heart- as they have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and free-radical scavenging properties.

Dark chocolate contains up to 2-3 times more flavanol-rich cocoa solids than milk chocolate.

The amount of cocoa solids in dark chocolate is important because it can be a key indicator of the amount of dietary flavonoids found in the chocolate.

Flavanols have been shown to support the production of nitric oxide in the endothelium- which is the inner cell lining of the blood vessel, that helps to relax the blood vessels and improve blood flow. Flavanols in chocolate are also said to help increase insulin sensitivity – which can help manage blood sugar.

In fact- some studies show that indulging in dark chocolate on a regular basis could actually help promote overall heart health. One study even showed that people who ate dark chocolate more than five times a week reduced their risk of heart issues by 57%.

Now, dark chocolate isn’t just said to be beneficial for our heart-but for our skin too!

The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shows that dark chocolate contains vitamins and minerals such as copper, iron, and manganese- which can be beneficial to your skin as well. For example, manganese helps to support the production of collagen- which is a protein that helps keep our skin looking healthy and youthful. While other minerals like calcium, help to repair and renew skin. We know that calcium is great for our bones but according to the American Academy of Dermatology, our bodies can shed up to 40,000 skin cells each day so calcium is great for renewing those cells as well!

Other studies have also found the high levels of antioxidants in dark chocolate may protect skin from the powerful ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun.

Of course- this is all with eating in moderation. You don’t want TOO much of a good thing!

But some dark chocolate here and there can go a long way for you!

So have some chocolate and do some good for your heart!



Resources:

https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/food-features/dark-chocolate/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20858571/

https://www.heart.org/en/news/2019/02/12/are-there-health-benefits-from-chocolate

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