Monday, April 9, 2012

A Dark Indulgence

As a delicious luxury for those of us who are weight-conscious, it’s hard to believe that something as decadent and seemingly sinful as chocolate can be beneficial to our health. Of course we’re going to be skeptical. It’s the thing we cut out of our diet when we’re counting calories, what we allow ourselves to have only on special occasions, what we give up for lent (it’s over, eat up!). Luckily, we don’t always have to spare ourselves the pleasure of consuming the creamy delectable treat. In fact, chocolate can actually be beneficial to your health.

There are two caveats that you need to keep in mind with this little tidbit of information: dark chocolate and moderation. For it to be most effective, the chocolate needs to be at least 70% cacao and have as few ingredients as possible. The Ghirardelli variety pictured fits this mold perfectly. For those of you who aren’t huge fans of dark chocolate like myself, try biting off small pieces and letting it melt in your mouth. This undercuts the intensity and makes it very manageable. Make sure that you eat only one square a day, which equates to about 11 grams and 60 calories.

So what about the health benefits? A number of studies have shown that dark chocolate’s special antioxidant properties help protect the cardiovascular system, including:
  • Widening blood vessels
  • Modest effect on lowering blood pressure
  • Reduces platelet action- reduces blood clotting

While these revelations may seem like excellent news to your cardiovascular health, remember not to get too carried away. Over-consumption of both of these can decrease their beneficial effects and also cause weight gain. Yet, in a way, you can have your cake and eat it too. 

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