Happy Valentine’s Day! It’s officially here, the special holiday of celebrating the ones you love. Whether you’re planning to eat chocolate yourself or will be buying it for someone special, today’s final key to a healthy heart will speak to the health benefits found in dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids that are derived from the cocoa bean. Antioxidants protect the body by working to fight substances called free radicals whose main job is to damage healthy cells. Choose dark chocolate with a higher percentage of cocoa to reap more of these antioxidant benefits.
There are some studies that suggest small portions of dark chocolate can support heart health and the health of your blood vessels. Flavanols in dark chocolate can increase nitric oxide, which improves blood flow and insulin sensitivity and lowers blood pressure.
Choosing dark chocolate and eating modest quantities can offer the best health benefits. Aim to pick 60-70% dark chocolate and limit your maximum portion to 1 oz per day (daily consumption of chocolate may not fit into a healthy eating plan for diabetes or kidney disease. Consult with your doctor and Registered Dietitian for an individualized recommendation if you have either of these conditions). Be careful not to overindulge in your chocolate intake because dark chocolate is high in calories and can contribute to weight gain if eaten in excess.
To close, I’ll leave you with the memorable words of Charles M. Schulz, “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
The Diet Duchess