I know it, I admit it, and I take full responsibility for it. My name is Renee, and I’m addicted to chocolate.
Any kind of chocolate will call to me—dark, white, milk, creamy, crunchy, with almonds or without—any kind. But is this really so bad? It may sound like I’m simply justifying my weakness for chocolate, but I’m happy to report that researchers are finding that chocolate may just be good for you. That is, if it’s dark chocolate (at least 60% cacao content).
Chocolate that’s chewy, cream-covered, caramel-filled, or in the class of “sugary candy bar” is not going to make it into the “good for you” category. Solid dark chocolate is healthy because of its high percentage of cocoa. Cacao beans contain antioxidants in the form of flavonoids, which, as part of a healthy lifestyle, are good for your heart.
Feeling stressed out? Eat a little bit of dark chocolate. Researchers found that dark chocolate may lower the stress hormone cortisol and the hormones that control people’s “fight or flight” responses.
In addition, studies found that dark chocolate may reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and even increase blood flow to the brain. Researchers are also looking into a connection between dark chocolate and elevated mood and improved insulin sensitivity.
The big disclaimer here is portion size. You can’t eat a king-sized Kit Kat or Snickers bar and think that you’re doing your heart a favor. One ounce should give you the health benefits without giving your body too much fat, sugar, and calories—those pesky “down sides” to eating chocolate. (That would be my problem—portion control.)
But the next time you’re fighting a chocolate craving, know that it’s OK to give in. Grab a small piece of high-quality dark chocolate of and enjoy. You’ll satisfy your craving and may help improve your health at the same time. That’s a sweet and tasty win-win.