“After all, it’s healthy right?”

A common response to dark chocolate.  It’s usually followed by a short laugh because most people have heard about chocolate being healthy however few know the details.  Nutrition is a challenging area within the employer ecosystem. 

 Though we joke about dark chocolate it actually IS a healthy food.

  • What is it about dark chocolate that’s so healthy?

Dark Chocolate contains flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that helps our cells resist damage from everyday exposure from junky foods, pollution, stress, etc. Dark chocolate has also been known to help the heart with lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow to the brain.

  • What exactly IS dark chocolate?  

Dark Chocolate, unlike milk chocolate, is also known as “bittersweet” or “semisweet” chocolate. It contains a high percentage (> 60%) of cocoa solids, and little or no added sugar.   You’ll notice that dark chocolate tends to be rich and intense in flavor.  

NEWS ALERT*** You don’t have to rely on dark chocolate to get the benefits of the flavonoids.    Other foods containing flavonoids include cranberries, apples, peanuts, onions, tea, many green vegetables and red wine.  

CAUTION: NOT ALL DARK CHOCOLATE IS CREATED EQUAL

Most commercial chocolate is highly processed and won’t hold up to the great benefits noted above.  If you want healthy, good chocolate, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Chocolate With High Percentages of Cocoa – 60% cocoa, is the base percentage for dark chocolate. The higher the percentage of cocoa,the darker the chocolate and the greater the health benefits you’ll receive.
  2. Get a High Quality Chocolate  – Your dark chocolate is only as good as the cocoa.  Choose chocolate made from “organic” or “fairly traded” cocoa beans.  
  3. Opt For Raw Chocolate When Available – Raw chocolate also known, as raw cocoa, is actually the best. It has been cold pressed to preserve as much antioxidant content as possible.
  4. Be Thoughtful About Calories – Watch out for extra ingredients that can add extra fat and calories like caramel and marshmallow covered chocolate.  Since there is no serving size, enjoy moderate portions such as 1-ounce of chocolate, a few times a week.  

On a side note some wines have flavonoids also, but we’ll save that for another conversation. In the meantime eat dark chocolate and be healthy and happy!  

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