This blog post was written by Bridget Mahoney, a registered dietitian on Amwell.
As a registered dietitian nutritionist, I have occasionally felt like the bearer of bad news, however, today is not one of those times. Today I am sharing reasons why chocolate is good for you!
Chocolate is a superfood because it’s made from cacao beans, which are packed with flavonoids and antioxidants. Did you know that a bar of chocolate has five times the amount of flavonoids as an apple? Recent studies have shown a correlation between higher chocolate intake and lower risks of heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes, as well as lower blood pressures and stress levels. All of these health benefits are attributed to the high flavonoid and antioxidant content from the cacao beans. Flavanoids are antioxidants that help increase vein and artery flexibility.
Not only does chocolate improve serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain, thus putting you in a better mood, another study has shown that chocolate may even impact your intellectual abilities The study included 60 older adults who drank hot chocolate twice a day for 30 days and revealed a 30 percent raise in memory and problem solving among the participants.
But, before you grab a chocolate candy bar or slice cake, it’s important to understand that not all forms of chocolate contain high levels of flavanols. Generally speaking, the more processed and the more additives in a food, the fewer health benefits it provides. To receive all of the good and powerful qualities mentioned above, stick to chocolate with 70% or more cacao and try the bars that have less added fats and sugars. Think dark chocolate over milk chocolate.
While more research is needed to establish a serving size of chocolate to help you reap the health benefits it may offer, we do know that you no longer need to feel guilty if you enjoy a small piece of dark chocolate once in a while. So, for now, enjoy moderate portions of chocolate (e.g., one ounce) a few times per week, and don’t forget to include other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, red wine, tea, onions and cranberries, in your diet.
For more dietary information and recommendations connect with a nutritionist or registered dietitian on Amwell today.