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dark chocolate melts my heart

March 28, 2011

I’m a full supporter of the whole “chocolate is healthy for you” school of thought.

Evidence 1.

Evidence 2.

There’s more where that came from but I don’t think this is really a matter that needs much evidence.

Recently, though, I came across this article from Healthline. It talks about the controversial downsides to chocolate consumption (obesity) versus the benefits of the delicious dark dessert.

I think it’s foolish to detract from a food’s (particularly chocolate’s, or better yet, cocoa’s) health benefits because of the possibility of people overeating it. It’s common sense that if you’re going to overeat or to overdo anything it can be harmful to the body and your health. Just because cocoa has some heart benefits like lowering blood pressure and bad cholesterol and increasing levels of good cholesterol doesn’t mean you should clean out the rack of Nestle’s Chocolate Easter Bunnies in your grocery store.

The article reads, “New research suggests that the cocoa ingredient may lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels while preventing diabetes and improving the health of blood vessels” (Dotinga). But the article continues to warn that these benefits to your health won’t outweigh (no pun intended) the effects of weight gain and potential fat if you consume too much chocolate.

Researcher Lona Sandon, assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, says, “In other words, not all chocolate or cocoa is created equal.” This statement truly is an obvious one for anyone who understands how different foods affect the body differently. You always have to consider other ingredients, additives, and even the manner in which the food was processed. It’s usually a good rule of thumb to select the most unprocessed variety and to just eat real food.

The best option is to reach for dark chocolate with low sugar and the highest percentage of dark cocoa you can find. Trader Joe’s Swiss 72% cacao dark chocolate is a much better choice than a heavily loaded bar with fat, sugar, and other additives candy bars like a Mound’s or even Hershey’s milk chocolate. If you have to have your Hershey’s, though, fear not. Just opt for a milk bar with almonds in it. You’ll get the healthy fats of the almonds, you’ll feel more full and get your chocolate fix, and you’ll be consuming less sugar and less saturated fat than if you just had a Hershey’s milk plain.

I thought this article was really interesting because it touches on the health benefits of chocolate but also deters us away from them because of our society’s mental thought process when it comes to food. We tend to overdo it when we hear something is good. Obviously, a diet high in chocolate isn’t going to do anyone any favors, least of all your heart.

But moderation does the body good. So grab a piece of dark chocolate if you’ve got a sweet tooth.

Just don’t eat the entire jar of Nutella in one sitting…

_____________

What do you think about the health benefits of foods like chocolate? I think they’re great. I also think it’s common sense to just eat them in moderation, though. Obviously chocolate can’t count as a meal or replace vegetables, fruits, and whole grains! 

How do you get your chocolate fix? I like to have a little bit of chocolate each night after I have dinner. A nice mug of hot chocolate is always good to sip on, too, especially when you’re working away at assignments. I try to vary between that and wine when doing homework. Kidding…sort of.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2011 2:40 pm

    I’m a strong believe that everything in moderation is the best way to go…and that definitely holds true for chocolate! 🙂

  2. March 29, 2011 3:00 pm

    I have a square of dark chocolate after lunch almost every day. Makes me happy! And I agree with you that its the overall consumption that matters. The chance for someone to overdo it shouldn’t negate the proven benefits.

  3. March 29, 2011 4:13 pm

    I love dark chocolate so much, but can’t think about it until lent is over! I’ve never wanted a taste of chocolate so much before!

  4. March 29, 2011 6:10 pm

    I love… LOVE… love… nutella! 😉

  5. March 30, 2011 9:00 am

    I agree with your thought about moderation! Sometimes people hear things like chocolate is healthy and think that they should be eating gobs and gobs of it when in reality that’s not what the research is saying!! 🙂

  6. March 30, 2011 12:10 pm

    I wish upon the stars that I had a trader joe’s around where I am:) sadly, no. I do have a TJ maxx tho and they have this chocolate called “wine lovers chocolate”. I love the zinfandel one. It is super dar with a slightly sweet finish and excellent with the advised wine. They have other flavors too! wine and choc? cant go wrong for your heart:D

    • Natalia permalink*
      March 30, 2011 3:59 pm

      That wine lovers chocolate sounds divine! I’m going to have to be on the lookout for that one 🙂

  7. March 30, 2011 3:49 pm

    I love chocolate and I am always happy to hear why it is good for you… in moderation of course. 🙂

    I would have done the same thing with the jar of nutella… that’s why I only buy it when I know that I will cook with it. 🙂

    • Natalia permalink*
      March 30, 2011 4:00 pm

      It was on sale. I couldn’t resist!

  8. March 30, 2011 5:26 pm

    For some reason, I have not been craving chocolate lately. I know, weird! But I discovered a few months back that I like dark chocolate with coffee!

    P.S. Cuisinart makes a small food processor that is about $35-40 at Sur la Table. I’m sure thy sell elsewhere, too. They are small, but perfect for 1 or 2 people.

  9. March 30, 2011 8:28 pm

    Was that Trader Joe’s chocolate so tasty? I”m trying to savor it in small portions.

    I too am a firm believer that chocolate is healthy for you….

    • Natalia permalink*
      March 30, 2011 9:25 pm

      It’s delicious! Thank you so much 🙂

  10. erindusseault permalink
    March 31, 2011 3:34 pm

    Dark chocolate is my favorite. Now I’m really hungry!!!

  11. littlehealthjunkie permalink
    May 3, 2011 5:14 pm

    mm mmm I love chocolate + nutella together! (TJS has the BEST of stuff! I love that 72% dark choco. so good!)

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