Anyone that knows me knows about my love for dark chocolate. Not the milk chocolate, not chocolate candy bars but the real, honest–to-goodness dark chocolate consisting of over 70 % cocoa solids. Dark chocolate is an excellent source of manganese, copper, magnesium, potassium, selenium, zinc and iron. It is also a good source of fibre and phosphorus. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidant flavonols and something called theobromine which is a relative of caffeine.
The flavanols found in dark chocolate are linked to a reduction of memory loss in older people. It has also been found that the anti-inflammatory qualities of dark chocolate is beneficial in treating brain injuries like a concussion. Flavonols in dark chocolate can also protect the skin against sun damage.
Dark chocolate also contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which is the same chemical that your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages a person’s brain to release feel-good endorphins.
Hmmmm…Maybe that’s why I love my chocolate!
What are some of the other known health benefits of chocolate? There was a review published in the Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis back in 2009 that showed that the antioxidants in dark chocolate reduced the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (a contributing factor in heart disease) as well as improved the general blood flow in the body. In other more recent studies, chocolate also appears to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering a person’s blood pressure.
Cocoa in dark chocolate has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity. So chocolate – in moderation of course, may delay or prevent the onset of diabetes.
The taste of dark chocolate may be a bit strong for some people. I know that sometimes the strong taste of eating chocolate straight up can make me sneeze. But that’s never stopped me from eating a piece of it straight off the bar.
If eating a straight piece of chocolate is not your thing, here are a few suggestions on how to incorporate some chocolate into your diet.
- Add grated chocolate into a bowl of fruit such as strawberries, apples, peaches, grapes or plums.
- Mix small chunks of chocolate into frozen banana ice cream. I have a Yonanas frozen healthy dessert maker and the blend of frozen bananas and chocolate tastes wonderful when I make this dessert in the summertime.
- Consider adding some small chunks of chocolate to your wheat free cookie, muffin or bread recipes.
- Throw a piece or two of chocolate into a fruit smoothie that you are making.
I have given you just a few suggestions. I am sure that you can think of other ways to incorporate chocolate into your diet through a bit of your own experimentation.
Now, all this talk about chocolate has me craving some.