DARK CHOCOLATE IS HEALTHY?
Is your significant other a serious member of the #FitFam? Are they trying their hardest to lose a couple of pounds before beach season? The truth is dark chocolate could be your go-to gift when it comes to giving a healthy treat to your partner!
Yes, that wasn’t a typo – I used the words chocolate and healthy in the same sentence! Believe it or not, there are multiple reasons why dark chocolate can be beneficial to reaching your fitness goals. However, notice that I said dark chocolate, NOT milk chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake or any product that includes chocolate. We are talking strictly dark chocolate here!
DARK CHOCOLATE = NUTRITIOUS
There are multiple reasons why dark chocolate is good for you in moderation. The main benefit is going to be its high levels of polyphenols and flavonoids. The high amount of polyphenols found in the cacao butter in dark chocolate are shown to improve cardiovascular health and help to regulate blood pressure.
Flavonoids are phytonutrients which play a role when increasing health in plants, animals and humans as well! They are classified as antioxidants, which I’m sure you have heard of, but these antioxidants are so important because they protect your cells from the damage caused by free radicals.
Free radicals – an uncharged molecule shown to cause damage to the body on the cellular level
Not only will dark chocolate provide you with body-friendly antioxidants, but it will also give you a healthy dose of magnesium and copper, which are crucial for strong bones, increased energy and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In addition, dark chocolate contains caffeine which can not only wake you up, but it can also enhance your cognition and aid in fighting fat.
VALENTINES DAY BENEFIT
Okay we get it, dark chocolate is going to make my partner a healthier person, but what does it have to do with V-Day? After being ingested, dark chocolate has been shown to increase the amount of opiates released into the brain. These opiates stimulate your brain to release dopamine (the “feel good hormone”), which gives you pleasure, alertness, concentration, euphoria and motivation.
If you don’t get what I’m trying to say here, it will make your partner happier – maybe even increasing your chances of having a romantically intimate night!
WHY JUST DARK CHOCOLATE?
You’ve probably noticed by now that I have been harping so much on dark chocolate, but not milk or white chocolate. There are a couple of huge reasons for this – the first being that you will receive the benefits of flavonoids and antioxidants from the cocoa bean found in chocolates. However, dark chocolate has been shown to contain up to three times more cocoa than milk chocolate.
The second big reason is the fact that dark chocolate contains healthy saturated fats from stearic acid, which comes from the cacao butter in chocolate. Dark chocolate contains strictly this type of healthy saturated fats, but milk chocolate contains fewer amounts of this healthy fat along with unhealthy fats found in the milk added to the chocolate.
The third reason is that dark chocolate contains roughly half the amount of sugar compared to its milk chocolate counterpart. If you didn’t know, sugar is what is essentially making us fat, not fat! A high amount of sugar ingested in a short period of time spikes blood sugar levels and lowers your metabolism by causing insulin resistance.
Then there’s the chocolate wannabe, white chocolate. If you take a second to think about it, white chocolate really isn’t chocolate at all! Chocolate comes from the cocoa bean, which is roasted, ground and typically added to a fat. White chocolate actually contains no cocoa beans, just sugar and fat, essentially making it the worst type of imposter “chocolate” out there!
WHAT KIND TO GET
When it comes to choosing your dark chocolate, you shouldn’t be getting the chocolate that comes in the heart-shaped boxes with the extravagant fillings. Unfortunately, these are going to do more harm than good when it comes to being fit-friendly.
When looking for dark chocolate, try to seek out the bars which state the percentage of cocoa found in the bar. I recommend going for the 85% or higher cacao bars. These are going to provide you with the most benefits from the chocolate itself.
In addition, opt for organic dark chocolate when you can, this is due to the fact that most harvesting regulations in the sections where these cacao beans are coming from are not very strict. By choosing organic dark chocolate, you are making sure that this product does not contain any harmful pesticides, food additives or artificial sweeteners.
INDULGE WITH CONTROL
As with most treats, keeping it under control is going to remain crucial when walking the fine line between enjoying a nutritious treat and falling into the trap of gluttony. So, how much is enough when it comes to consuming dark chocolate? Well, every person is different, but I would only recommend ingesting 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate per day. This is going to be your typical serving size on a bar of high quality dark chocolate.
Overall, when it comes to the gift giving to your significant other, enjoy the gift. However, just remember to enjoy the time you are spending with them as well.
Happy Valentine’s Day!