Dark Chocolate – not white chocolate or milk chocolate – is good for you. As there is no question that chocolate procures pleasure for those who eat it, you never need to feel guilty again!If you enjoy dark chocolate, eat a little daily – but make it the dark kind.
Eating 2 ounces (50 grams) a day of plain chocolate with a minimum content of 70% chocolate solids can be beneficial to health, providing protection against heart disease, high blood pressure, and many other health hazards as well as essential trace elements and nutrients such as iron, calcium and potassium, and vitamins A. B1, C, D, and E and it’s a lot tastier than boring old vitamin pills too.A 1 1/2-ounce square of chocolate may have as many cancer-fighting antioxidants as a 5-ounce glass of red wine.
About 50% of all food cravings are for chocolate, far more than cravings for “something sweet” (16%), salty foods (12%), baked goods (11%), and fruit (4%). Some people go so far as saying they are addicted to chocolate. But that’s no license to go on a chocolate binge. Eating more dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure. Remember, you do have to balance the extra calories by eating less of other things.
What is it that makes chocolate so irresistible? A large part of chocolate’s allure, of course, lies in the taste – a deliciously rich concoction that satisfies the most intense craving. But several chemical reactions are also at work. For one thing, chocolate stimulates the secretion of endorphins, producing a pleasurable sensation similar to the “runner’s high” a jogger feels after running several miles. The question arises: Why is chocolate such a powerful food? And what makes it the most commonly craved food? (About 40% of women and 15% of men report chocolate cravings.)
A new study by market research publisher Packaged Facts titled Market Trends: The U.S. Market for Gourmet Chocolate reports that the higher cocoa, lower sugar content and antioxidant properties of premium dark chocolate are making it a more attractive treat for health-conscious Americans, especially those counting carbs. The potential health benefits of premium dark chocolate versus higher sugar, higher fat mass-market counterparts are causing consumers to reevaluate their attitudes toward the gourmet chocolate market.
A word of caution: Not all chocolate is heart healthy. White chocolate, which a Harvard researcher points out is “not really chocolate at all,” and milk chocolate may expand the hips rather than help blood flow. And none of the instant cocoa mixes in the local grocery store contain the flavonoids that improve blood vessel function.