Chocolate Fills Your Heart With Love

Chocolate manufacturers are warm and fuzzy these days about ongoing research that centers around dark chocolate’s health benefits. Aside from being a respectable source of magnesium and other vitamins and minerals, chocolate (or cocoa) contains a toothsome array of plant chemicals or phytonutrients.

According to a study from the School of Pharmacy (conducted on the world’s happiest lab rats) in Granada, Spain, “the habitual use of cocoa “helped correct “the negative effects of long-term feeding with a diet moderately deficient in magnesium.”

In humans, a diet deficient in magnesium poses serious cardiovascular risk, which leads to the question:

How can we habitually eat chocolate without getting fat?

Answer: Look for healthy dark chocolate, showing greater than 70 percent cacao on the label. Though dark chocolate is certainly caloric, it has less sugar and should be free of milk. Eat one or two ounces, say a third of a small bar, rather than looking at a bar as a single serving. It may be best to eat that three times (or more) a day – spread throughout the day. Alternatively, try eating raw cacao nibs, unsweetened bits of the cacao seed. When cooked, the nibs tend to be more bitter. You can buy the raw ones in bulk at Whole Foods and add them to trail mixes. Try pressing the nibs into halved, pitted dates, topping them with an almond — a nutty, sweet, heart-healthy treat. The best and healthiest dark chocolate is unprocessed or cold processed dark chocolate which leaves much of the nutrition of the raw healthy cocoa in.

Dark chocolate foods produced by appropriate methods contribute significant amounts of beneficial flavonoids to the diet. These compounds may enhance cardiovascular health by delaying blood clotting (having “aspirin-like” effects) and helping to reduce inflammation. Dark chocolate has more antioxidants than tea or wine, on a per-serving basis, providing broad protection against chronic disease.

Though chocolate alone won’t save you from a heart attack, it’s getting lots of deserved attention.


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