Chocolate: A Girl’s Best Friend
Chocolate is a girl’s best friend—at least in my family it is. There’s nothing like ending the day with a creamy truffle or piece of light, fluffy cake. And for those who like to wind down with a glass of red or white? There’s no shortage of chocolate flavored wine when you’re in the mood for something sweet. Chocolate isn’t just a dessert or snack for me, it’s a stress-reliever, and while I try not to eat it too often, I’m still left with this question: In the days of healthy eating, is it necessary to give up chocolate?
Obviously, limiting sweets is a good idea for many reasons, but there are health benefits to be gained from eating chocolate. Women’sHealthMag.com recommends looking for chocolate that contains 70% cacao or cocoa, as the benefits aren’t going to be had from a Snickers or Milky Way. The benefits of chocolate can include: a healthier heart, weight loss, happier kids, diabetes prevention, reduced stress, sun protection, higher intelligence, cough relief, and diarrhea relief. (And don’t forget, it remedies the effects of Dementors.)
So how can something so sinfully delicious be good for you? The Mayo Clinic explains that “cocoa, itself, unlike chocolate, is low in sugar and fat.”
It’s the way chocolate is made, the addition of sugars and other processed ingredients that prove to be a health risk. Cocoa beans are made up of flavanols (plant-based nutrients) that “have antioxidant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease. Flavanols — which are more prevalent in dark chocolate than in milk chocolate — also help lower blood pressure and improve vascular function.” While the bitterness of cocoa beans make them harder to ingest, consuming them raw provides the above benefits but to a higher degree, according to ehow.com, though the beans do contain caffeine.
With the increased awareness of overly processed foods, it’s no surprise there’s a whole other market for chocolate: Organic. Theo, a Fair Trade chocolate company, not only makes chocolate that is good for us, but good for the earth. They sell gluten-free, vegan, and soy-free products, not to mention their bars come in fun flavors like Root Beer Barrel and Cinnamon Horchata. Check out their story here!
While you don’t have to give it up, there are products out there with the same (if not better) chocolatey taste that provide a healthy alternative. Since chocolate chip cookies are my guilty pleasure, I leave you with this healthy recipe from eatingwell.com.
Have a favorite healthy alternative? Tell me about it in the comments.
Chocolate photos from Unsplash.com