|Sweet Health: The Benefits of Dark Chocolate
This holiday season, chocoholics are getting an extra special gift — evidence that chocolate is good for you!
What makes chocolate healthy? Chocolate contains substances called flavonoids — natural antioxidants that help prevent disease. Antioxidants inhibit a destructive reaction within the body, called oxidation. Antioxidants are also abundant in fruits, vegetables, green tea and red wine.
Dark chocolate reigns supreme in terms of flavonoid content. It contains two to four times the amount of flavonoids found in its lighter cousin, milk chocolate. Opt for premium dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa (60 percent or higher). Avoid processed chocolate which contains ingredients like hydrogenated oils, corn syrup, milk fats and dairy cream. While “healthy” chocolate usually does include some table sugar, avoid chocolates with high levels of sugar.
While enjoying an occasional premium dark chocolate treat is fine, daily consumption can be unhealthy and fattening. Moderation is essential. This holiday season give yourself the gift of health — opt for a diet rich in vitamins, fruits, vegetables, fiber and even the occasional small piece of healthy, dark chocolate!Dr. Barbara Smith