We know there are a lot of readers out there who are desperately hoping that the answer to today’s question is a resounding “Yes!” Well, it’s a definite “maybe” and you’ll just have to read on to find out the details you need to know!
What are we talking about? Chocolate, of course! It’s a tasty, tempting treat that many people simply can’t resist. It’s sweet and can be high in calories, so eating a lot of chocolate isn’t going to help you lose weight. But could it be healthy…somehow…some way?
Although healthy chocolate sounds too good to be true, recent scientific studies suggest that one particular type of chocolate — dark chocolate — may have some definite health benefits. Dark chocolate has a higher concentration of one of the main ingredients in chocolate: cocoa.
Scientists believe that the cocoa in dark chocolate might help to reduce certain risk factors for heart disease. Why? Cocoa beans contain substances called flavonoids. Flavonoids have been shown to have antioxidant effects that can reduce cell damage that can lead to heart disease.
Flavonoids also have been linked to improved blood flow and lower blood pressure. These findings have led some scientists to believe eating dark chocolate could reduce the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart attack.
Before you go out and stock up on “healthy” dark chocolate, though, you should be aware of a few things. Many of the studies that suggest health benefits of dark chocolate are recent and need to be confirmed by more research.
More importantly, as with any “healthy” food, scientists are quick to point out that moderation is key. A little bit of dark chocolate is likely all you need to get the health benefits from the flavanols in dark chocolate.
Eating too much chocolate too often can lead to weight gain and many related health problems that could easily and quickly erase any benefits gained. The fat, sugar and calories in chocolate, if not eaten in moderation, can lead to higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes — the very things the flavonoids are supposed to counteract!
If you want the health benefits of dark chocolate, doctors suggest eating no more than three ounces of dark chocolate per day. Also, be sure you’re eating dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 65%.
Three grams of dark chocolate daily can still add 450 calories or more to your diet. To make up for these calories, you may want to decrease calories in other areas or exercise more often.