The Healthy Benefits of Chocolate 

  With Valentine’s Day coming up, I’d like to share some of the benefits of chocolate.  My favorite is Swiss dark chocolate.  And that type is one of the healthiest!   It is believed that chocolate may help protect your cardiovascular system.

 Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. Flavonoids help protect plants from environmental toxins and help repair damage. They can be found in a variety of foods, such as fruits and vegetables. When we eat foods rich in flavonoids, it appears that we also benefit from this “antioxidant” power.

In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research shows that flavanols have other benefits to our health, such as lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow to the brain and heart.

But before you grab a chocolate candy bar or slice of chocolate cake, it’s important to understand that not all forms of chocolate contain high levels of flavanols.

The more chocolate is processed to rid it of the natural bitter taste the more flavanols are lost.  The good news is that most major chocolate manufacturers are looking for ways to keep the flavanols in their processed chocolates.

But for now, your best choices are likely dark chocolate over milk chocolate (especially milk chocolate that is loaded with other fats and sugars).

Enjoy moderate portions of chocolate (e.g., 1 ounce) a few times per week, and don’t forget to eat other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, red wine, tea, onions and cranberries.

I plan on enjoying a small glass of red wine with my square piece of Swiss dark chocolate this weekend and feel like I am making a healthy choice for my healthy eating habits.

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