There are few things in the world quite like a rich piece of dark chocolate. In my opinion… the darker the better. And nutrition science backs me up, too.
Ounce for ounce, dark chocolate is one of the world’s best sources of antioxidants – like polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins. Antioxidants gobble up free radicals that can attack bonds in DNA and cellular proteins, contributing to cancer and accelerating the aging process. These antioxidants can also help lower blood pressure, raise “good” cholesterol, lower “bad” cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and even protect your skin from sun damage.
Dark chocolate – with at least 70-85% cocoa – is chock full of nutrients like fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. These minerals help keep your body in balance, contribute to healthy sleep, and help with energy transport throughout your system.
Need a brain booster before a big meeting or an important test? Dark chocolate may be your new hero. A little bit of caffeine and sugar are always nice before a challenging task, but it’s dark chocolate’s flavanols you can really thank. Flavanols dilate blood vessels, improving blood flow throughout the body – including the brain and eyes. You’ll think a little clearer and see a little crisper thanks to the extra oxygen getting to where it counts.
Chocolate is often considered a no-no because it contains cocoa butter, which is high in saturated fat. But it turns out that, like coconut oil, cocoa butter could actually be good for you. One-third of the fat in cocoa butter is stearic acid, which your liver converts to a healthy fat called oleic acid, which is thought to help balance your cholesterol profile. Plus, other anti-inflammatory compounds in cocoa help fight inflammation in your vascular system and keep platelets from sticking together and clogging up your artery walls. Overall, a big win for your cardiovascular system.
There is considerable evidence that cocoa can provide powerful health benefits, being especially protective against cardiovascular disease. But that doesn’t mean you can chow down on chocolate bars every day. Moderation is key – so is the quality of your chocolate.
You need to search out organically sourced chocolate with at least 70 – 85% cocoa content. This kind of chocolate is lower in sugar and much higher in the heart-healthy nutrients you’re after.
So, go ahead, buy your Valentine some high quality dark chocolate – and treat yourself, too. Your heart (and taste buds) will thank you!