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Diet Diva

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Superfood of the Week: Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

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a piece of dark chocolateYou’ve probably heard people say that chocolate is good for you. I find that I don’t usually have to tell people that twice. For some reason, everyone remembers it the first time. Personally, I can’t live without my chocolate. Knowing that it’s beneficial makes me quite happy which is why I am naming dark chocolate as the superfood of the week!

Now don’t go reaching for the King Sized candy bar yet—I’m not saying that all candy bars and chocolate treats are healthy. But allowing yourself a few servings of dark chocolate per week may be beneficial.

Dark chocolate has a powerful antioxidant known as flavanoids (naturally occurring beneficial compounds in plants) that help protect the body from the damage of free radicals and toxins. Research shows that flavanols, a type of flavanoid found in dark chocolate, provide many benefits to our bodies including:

  • lowering blood pressure
  • improving blood flow to the brain and heart
  • allowing blood platelets to clot
  • lowering cholesterol

Flavanoids are found in a variety of foods, with cocoa being one of the tastiest. The benefits of the flavanols can be lost in the processing of the cocoa, which is why many of our favorite chocolate treats don’t have much flavanol content left.

Darker chocolates don’t necessarily contain more flavanols. When choosing a healthy dark chocolate, check the label for 70 percent or more. (The percentage in chocolate refers to the cocoa mass, which diminished as chocolate is more and more processed.) There’s no guarantee that you’ll get more flavanols, but chances are higher with less processed chocolate.

Flavanol content depends on the company and their processing techniques. If you want to be assured of how much flavanol content you’re getting, you need to know how the chocolate is processed.  Mars Botanical has a patented process that maintains high levels of flavanols called CocoaPro. To try it, check out CocoaVia and a new product that is fruit-flavored but contains cocoa flavanols called Cirku.

I enjoy my daily square of dark chocolate, knowing that it not only tastes good, but it’s good for me!

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Tags: Antioxidants , Healthy Eating , Superfood of the Week

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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