The benefits of eating chocolate
You’ve probably heard conflicting statements on whether chocolate is bad or good for you. Yes, the added sugar, fats and processing that typically comes from producing milk chocolate can be bad for you. However, there is research that showcases the nutritional benefits that can come from pure, unsweetened cacao, which is very different from milk chocolate, making it the better choice if you choose to give in to your chocolate craving. Registered dietitian Lisa Akly, RDN, answered some questions on the benefits of eating chocolate and how to fit this delicious treat into your daily life.
So, what are some benefits of cacao?
“Chocolate is a good source of fiber,” said Akly. “Cacao is a natural food that is minimally processed and derived from a seed, which gives it a higher fiber content.”
Cacao is also high in magnesium, which helps lower your risk of diabetes by regulating insulin and blood pressure, producing strong bones, decreasing risk of cardiovascular disease and promoting a healthier nervous system.
“Chocolate also has an uplifting effect on mood,” said Akly. “Cacao can bring on enhanced mood and higher energy levels thanks to the blend of dopamine and phenylethylamine (PEA) that occurs when you eat chocolate.”
PEA is found higher in dark chocolates or chocolates with more than 60% of cacao.
Choosing the right chocolate
“There are benefits to eating chocolate, but you want to make sure you are choosing the right chocolate,” said Akly.
It is best to eat chocolate that has clean, naturally derived cacao as it provides the most nutritional benefits of all chocolate options. Because it is minimally processed, there is very little sugar or fat in it, which can provide a bitter taste.
You may want to start enjoying this kind of chocolate by trying cacao nibs (similar to chocolate chips) or one ounce of dark chocolate a day, or three thin squares.
Look for options with a minimum of 60–70% cacao.
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