There are different types, kinds and qualities of chocolate, which is why answering the question “Is chocolate good for you?” becomes worth writing about. While we would all love to hear the answer YES, it takes a bit more explaining so you know what those differences are.
Chocolate is from the Theobroma cacao tree found in Central and South America, but in more recent years, most cacao comes from Africa. The cacao beans are found inside banana shaped pods and go through a fermenting and drying process before being shipped to a factory to be made into what we know as chocolate.
THERE IS A GOOD AND BAD ASSOCIATION WITH CHOCOLATE.
From the not-so-good-camp, the potentially high sugar and fat content gives it a pretty bad name. Any addiction to the sweet stuff can be fixed with a typical candy bar type of chocolate, but when you start buying dark and even raw chocolate, the health benefits are numerous.
- Healthy chocolate has at least 70 percent cacao (or cocoa, which is cacao in its roasted, ground form) in it, also called dark chocolate. Do read the label though, as all are not created equal.
- Dark chocolate contains theobromine, which has been shown to harden tooth enamel. As opposed to chocolate causing cavities, it can help strengthen.
- Antioxidant rich dark chocolate helps combat signs of aging, heart disease and protect from some cancers.
- Although not as strong as coffee, dark chocolate contains caffeine that will give you a boost. As it is surrounded by more nutrients like potassium, magnesium and iron, it also packs a mineral punch.
- Feel good chemical phenylethylamine is found in chocolate. It’s the one that your brain creates when you feel like you are falling in love. The release of endorphins (feel good chemicals) in your body give you an overall lift, especially when feeling blue.
- Heart healthy flavonoids in dark chocolate may positively affect blood flow, preventing the formation of clots and hardening of the arteries.
Choosing the right chocolate is key for health. Search out a favourite taste and flavour from your local health food store, or start to read the labels of what you have at home. If you have a stash of high sugar and fat kinds, save them for treats. Enjoy a dark square of chocolate almost daily for the health benefits above, and you can lose the guilt as you sit back and enjoy it.