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Dark Chocolate Health Benefits

Love is in the air.

I walked into a Walgreen’s store earlier and it was wall to wall Valentine’s Day "stuff" from Teddy Bears to balloons, cards and of course, aisles and aisles of … chocolate. 

And each year is the same thing and we get the same questions. 

Is chocolate healthy?

Should I eat it?

How much?

Let’s get right to it.  Research has shown, that dark chocolate – but not milk chocolate or white chocolate – has heart health properties.

With Valentine’s candy everywhere people may wonder about the health benefits of chocolate

So the question is – does a chocolate a day really keep the doctor away?

Let’s take a look some of the data that are out there.

Research published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, and others have examined this question – and the answers are promising.

It starts with the antioxidant properties of dark chocolate.  Antioxidants can be thought of as scavengers in the body that gobble up dangerous free radicals and other destructive molecules. 

Think of antioxidants like Pac-Man – and the destructive molecules as the Ghosts in the game that Pac-Man gobbles. 

Of course antioxidants aren’t just in dark chocolate – they’re in fruit and veggies, tea, and loads of other foods.   But dark chocolate is one of the highest sources of antioxidants called flavonoids and catechins, two powerful ones. 

Of course other foods are better sources of other antioxidants, so variety is key.

A recent study published in the Southern Medical Journal examined the effects of dark chocolate on inflammation, lipid levels, and the stickiness of the blood in 28 individuals.

They fed the individuals 1 oz of dark chocolate daily for 7 days. 

The results: 

  • LDL (the bad cholesterol) dropped by 6%
  • HDL (the good cholesterol) increased by 9%
  • hsCRP (inflammatory marker) decreased

While this was a short study, it can be combined with the other positive data that are available to support the inclusion of dark chocolate into the diet.  Other studies suggest including dark chocolate into a varied diet lowers blood pressure too.

Mohr Results Bottom Line:

  • This isn’t a “free pass” to gorge on chocolate daily — and, no, MOST Valentine’s candy isn’t dark chocolate
  • Aim for chocolate that has at least 70% cacao (it will tell you this on the package).  We personally love 100% cacoa nibs in our yogurt — adds some great crunch and since they’re bitter without the added sugar that’s normally in chocolate, the yogurt does a nice job to offer the sweetness needed.
  • Dark chocolate does not mean King Size Twix, Heath Bars, Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, etc.  It means quality chocolate, without the added junk.
  • Limit that intake to about 1 oz once in awhile (not every 10 minutes).  It still contains lot of calories and fat, so if you want to include chocolate, keep those calories in check by reducing your intake elsewhere.

Another favorite thing to do in the Mohr House — take a scoop of UNSWEETENED cocoa powder (you know, the stuff you bake with) and add it to a smoothie.  Not necessarily romantic for your sweetheart … but surely great little boost of antioxidants, telling him/her that you want them to live longer. :-)

One of our favorites and one I’m sipping as I write this:

1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 scoop BiPro unflavored protein powder
3 LARGE handfuls spinach
1/2 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree (sticking with the Halloween theme)
1 heaping TBS unsweetened cocoa powder

1 frozen banana
1 cup frozen cherries (although any berry works)

Blend up and enjoy!

Make sure the addition of chocolate is part of all the other heart health diet strategies we’ve talked about like those below.

Avocados are a Healthy Source of Fat

Eggs and Heart Disease

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