There’s something undeniably addicting about chocolate! From the rich flavors to the heady aroma to the gorgeous color, it’s a food most of us could eat all day, every day.
Sadly, chocolate is usually among the first foods to be cut from our weight loss/fat-burning diet. The fact that it’s mixed with sugar, artificial ingredients, and added calories makes it an “extra” that isn’t good for our diet. So sad, but it’s a necessary sacrifice for the sake of good health.
Or is it? What if I told you that dark chocolate actually deserved a place in your weight loss, fat-burning, muscle-building, and heart-smart diet in moderate quantities? Best day of our lives!
Dark chocolate is anti-inflammatory. Chocolate contains a number of flavonoids, flavonols, and other antioxidants, all of which help to reduce inflammation. It’s a useful post-workout food, as it can reduce the soreness and stiffness that results from muscle tissue breakdown. It can also reduce the inflammation caused by diabetes, cholesterol, and other diseases. The anti-inflammatory properties of chocolate make it a healthy food to eat.
Dark chocolate is antioxidant-rich. Antioxidants are our bodies’ best defense against disease and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress can lead to heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and a wide range of other disease. Thankfully, the antioxidants in chocolate will help to combat oxidative stress and free radicals, essentially protecting your body. Some studies have even shown that the antioxidants in dark chocolate can reduce the risk of cancer!
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Dark chocolate is heart-smart. Chocolate contains antioxidants known as flavonoids, which has been proven in a number of studies to improve heart health. For example, one new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that chocolate could reduce the risk of atrial fibrillation (a dangerous and common form of irregular heartbeat). This is on top of all the other cardiovascular benefits: improved circulation, reduced cholesterol, enhanced vascular dilation, and reduced risk of stroke and heart attack. It’s all thanks to the amazing antioxidants in chocolate, which can protect your heart and cardiovascular system!
Dark chocolate is appetite-suppressing. It’s easy to go on a bender and eat chocolate to your heart’s content. But did you know that chocolate can actually help to suppress your appetite? With just one piece of chocolate, you satiate your body’s sugar cravings, trigger satiety hormones, and shut down your body’s desire for food. Even just the smell of chocolate can help to prevent hunger pangs. You’ll have a hard time just eating that one piece, but increasing your willpower to restrict your chocolate intake will encourage better appetite control overall.
Dark chocolate is energy-boosting. Chocolate is a natural source of caffeine, which increases your energy levels and silences the part of your brain that sends tiredness signals to your body. A piece or two of chocolate will give you a small boost of energy, thanks to its lower-than-coffee-and-tea caffeine content.
Dark chocolate is brain-enhancing. The flavonoids in chocolate will help to reduce inflammation in your body, including in your brain. This leads to better oxygen and nutrient supply to the brain, as well as better cognitive function overall. A small serving of chocolate per day can help to improve the performance of your brain across a wide range of cognitive abilities.
Pretty awesome, right? Chocolate can do all these amazing things, AND it’s absolutely delicious at the same time. It’s a food we can all enjoy, and one that offers visible benefits to our health.
But let’s make one thing VERY clear: not just any chocolate will do! In fact, milk and white chocolate contain more sugar and fat than is good for you. They also contain very little cacao, which is where all the health benefits come from.
No, the only type of chocolate you should eat is dark chocolate, anything with 70% or more cacao. Bittersweet and dark chocolate offers all the above-mentioned health benefits with very little sugar, fat, and artificial ingredients. It’s the type of chocolate you should be eating if you want to improve your heart health, reduce oxidative stress, fight cancer, enhance brain function, and boost your energy.
And remember: it’s just ONE piece at a time! Resist the urge to have more and more chocolate. You need to limit yourself to one piece of chocolate at a time, and no more than 1 or 2 ounces of chocolate per day. At that serving size, you get all the benefits of dark chocolate without increasing your risk of weight or fat gai
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