If you’ve been reading my blog for a bit, you know my mantra: fat doesn’t make you fat, sugar makes you fat. However, the health benefits of dark chocolate make it a worthwhile indulgence.
Valentine’s Day is my least favorite holiday. Do we really need an appointment on the calendar to express love to another human being? C’mon, that should be our daily practice. Now, there is a competitor for most ridiculous day of the year – February 15, “Half Price Chocolate Day.”
I don’t need an excuse to indulge in the occasional delicacy of high quality chocolate. The sweetness is a distant second to the buttery consistency that gets me every time. I take mine like I take my coffee – dark, minimally processed, organic and free trade.
Most of you reading this probably don’t need an excuse to indulge in chocolate either. Why should you feel good about this choice? In appropriate quantities, dark chocolate is a mood elevating wonder-bar that helps to keep your body and heart healthy.
Dark chocolate, unlike milk or white chocolate, is less processed. Dark chocolate is rich with antioxidant compounds known as flavonoids – approximately 8 times more than an equivalent amount of strawberries. From WebMD:
A new study shows that eating dark chocolate decreases blood pressure and improves insulin sensitivity in healthy people. Impaired insulin sensitivity is a major risk factor for diabetes and reduces the body’s ability to process blood sugar (glucose) effectively.
The fats in dark chocolate also help to increase blood flow and reduce cholesterol levels. From Discovery Fit and Health:
According to a study published in the European Heart Journal and reported on CBS News, German researchers found people who had an average of six grams of chocolate per day (one square of a chocolate bar) had a 39 percent lower risk of either a heart attack or stroke.
Now, before you go racing to the grocery store clearance aisle, I’m not giving you permission to go scarf a Hershey’s dark chocolate bar a day. Compare the two ingredient lists below and see which resonates as healthier:
- Dagoba Dark Chocolate Bar: Organic Cacao Beans, Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Organic Cacao Butter, 0.5% Non GMO Soy Lechitin)
- Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar: Sugar, Chocolate, Cocoa Butter, Cocoa Processed With Alkali, Milk Fat, Soy Lecithin and Vanillin (An Artificial Flavoring).
When you’re indulging, quality is everything. You will enjoy a single square of high quality chocolate much more than a cheap candy bar filled with artificial flavors and processed sugars. Your body will be happier and healthier too.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention another important part of purchasing chocolate. I only buy fair trade. I care about the way folks are treated when producing a product that I consume. From Fairtradeusa.org:
Cocoa farmers are often forced to sell their harvest to middlemen who rig scales or misrepresent prices, and media reports of child slavery show the stark contrast between the delicious treat and the difficult conditions of the people who produce it. Fair Trade certification ensures that farmers receive a fair price, allows farmers to invest in techniques that bring out the flavors of the region, and strictly prohibits slave and child labor.
I want kids to enjoy chocolate, not be forced into the manufacturing of it.
This is all pretty simple stuff. Enjoy high quality chocolate in moderation and be rewarded with improved health, a happy palate and great vibes.