Americans consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year, or over 11 pounds per person! We also eat an average of 22 pounds of candy each year, split almost equally between candy and chocolate. Now that’s a lot of chocolate eating that is going on regularly, which is why I want to help you make the smart and healthy choice. You can have your chocolate with all the health benefits!
I’m not going to lie, it is my absolute favorite treat and I know I am not alone. There is a large body of evidence that links chocolate to heart health. Studies have shown that chocolate has lots of antioxidants but which kind is the best?
When it comes to chocolate just like any other food, choose chocolate that is minimally processed. Most people divide chocolate into 3 categories, White chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is the best when it comes the least processed and sweetened. FDA does not have a standard for identifying dark chocolate but look for dark chocolate to contain 70-99 pure cocoa or cocoa solids. It’s these cocoa solids that have been found to have the most health benefits.
Here are 3 amazing health benefits of Dark Chocolate
- Protects against disease causing free radicals: Dark chocolate is very high in antioxidants in the form of phytochemicals (polyphenols and flavonoids). The higher the cocoa percentage of your next dark chocolate bar the better the antioxidants you will eat!
- Improved heart health! Dark Chocolate contains flavanols. Flavanols have been shown to have a very positive effect on heart health by helping lower blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart and to the brain
- Good for overall cholesterol: Dark chocolate has been shown to raise HDL cholesterol and protect against LDL oxidation.
There is a lot of evidence that cocoa can provide health benefits, especially with cardiovascular disease. BUT, this doesn’t mean people should go out and consume lots of chocolate everyday. When choosing chocolate choose the best dark chocolate quality with 70% or higher cocoa content. Enjoy!