LET’S TALK ABOUT CHOCOLATE

Over the last months, we have addressed many subjects concerning health and fitness and the treatment of back  or neck pain.  But, we have never really touched on the subject of chocolate.

Yes, chocolate.

Chocolate used to be considered the ultimate junk food.  However, health professionals and nutritionists are finding out the health benefits of a diet that includes chocolate, particularly dark chocolate.

Chocolate is made from plants, which means it contains many of the health benefits of fruits and vegetables.  These benefits act as antioxidants which protect the body from aging and damage that can lead to disease.  Dark chocolate contains a large number of these antioxidants…nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries.  Dark chocolate has been found to relax blood pressure through the production of nitric oxide that balances certain hormones in the body.

Dark chocolate particularly is good for your heart.  A small bar of chocolate every day can keep your heart and cardiovascular system running well.  Not only does it reduce blood pressure, dark chocolate has also shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10%.

Chocolate does contain fat, however, some of these fats do not impact cholesterol.  The fats in chocolate are 1/3 oleic acid which is found in olive oil, 1/3 stearic acid which has been shown to have neutral effect on cholesterol and 1/3 palmitic acid which has been connected to heart disease.  But, that means only 1/3 of the entire fat content in chocolate is bad for you.

Believe it or not, there is a science to choosing the best chocolate for your health.  As mentioned, choose dark chocolate as it has far more antioxidants than milk or white chocolates.  Always look for pure dark chocolate or dark chocolate with nuts or fruit flavorings.  Stay away from caramels or other fillings that can add sugar and fat.  Don’t wash down the chocolate with a glass of milk as milk can prevent the antioxidants from being absorbed into the body.   Also, be aware that one bar of dark chocolate contains about 400 calories so you may want to cut in half each day.  (stick with 100 grams or 3.5 ounces to get the ultimate benefits of eating dark chocolate.)

And, after remembering all the health benefits of including chocolate in your diet, remember one important fact.

It just tastes goooood.

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