‘Tis the season for chocolate. Heart-shaped-box chocolate. Filled-with-gooey-goodness chocolate. Fifty-percent-off-on-Wednesday chocolate.
For whatever reason, chocolate is a romantic thing. For a lot of us it’s the best possible end to any meal, a go-to comfort food, and the Achilles’ Heel to the most regimented training diet.
Well we’re not going to go toe-to-toe with anyone’s love for chocolate, especially the day before Valentine’s Day. But in the spirit of American Heart Month, we wanted to point out that chocolate doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure…but it does matter what kind you get.
In general, darker chocolates are going to be healthier all around then milkier ones, bringing some great benefits along for the tasty ride. Here are some good reasons to reach for the dark stuff.
It’s good for your heart. Studies have shown that dark chocolate may reduce blood pressure and cut down on plaque build-up in the arteries. That means blood flows more easily through your whole system, reducing strain on your heart overall.
It’s packed with antioxidants. We’ve been hearing more and more about the benefits of antioxidants recently — reducing the flow of free radicals, generally fighting aging, and promoting good health — but it’s worth noting that dark chocolate has a ton of them. It’s not a license to binge, but it does mean you can feel good about your occasional indulgence.
It can lower cholesterol. Dark chocolate has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff). That’s something that the average dessert simply can’t say. Bring it up with your doctor if this is something you’re trying to manage.
And a quick reality check: Dark chocolate (and any chocolate for that matter), regardless of the health benefits, does have a certain amount of calories and fat. As with anything else, moderation is key. Just make sure that if you are taking in extra calories by treating yourself to some dark chocolate, you are cutting back someplace else or upping your exercise to compensate.
Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!