If chocolate calls your name on a regular basis, fear not, fellow FabUplus Readers…it’s good for you!
The key ingredient of quality dark chocolate is cocoa which is produced in West Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean. Cocoa is loaded with flavonoids which are antioxidants with levels nearly double that of red wine.
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and other supporting studies, cocoa has properties which bestow us with the following health benefits:
Reduces inflammation which is heart protective
Improves immune function
Assists in weight management
Protects against insulin resistance
Assists in the treatment of allergic disorders
Promotes positive mood
Enhances cognitive function
If you’re thinking there’s a catch, there is…to receive the benefits from cocoa, it is really important to select chocolate with the highest percentage of cocoa which usually means it will be substantially lower in sugar as well. Quality dark chocolate is typically made from cocoa butter, cocoa, sugar, and vanilla, so a couple of squares of dark chocolate per day go a long way. Don’t worry about the fat content because cocoa butter is mainly made up of a monounsaturated fat called oleic acid which is also found in olive oil and recognized for its heart protective benefits 1. In addition to reducing inflammation, cocoa protects heart health by lowering blood pressure as well as lowering ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL-cholesterol) and raising ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL-cholesterol).
When selecting quality dark chocolate, look for bars that are 85% cocoa or higher to reap the benefits. If 85% is too strong for you, start with 75% cocoa and work your way up. Another option would be to make homemade hot chocolate using a natural unsweetened cocoa powder.