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Superfood of the week- Dark Chocolate
For me, this is a superfood that I’ve been dying to cover over the last few weeks, dark chocolate! This treat is not only delicious, but equally as nutritious making it a double threat! It’s loaded with nutrients and can have significant benefits on your health. Though it’s health benefits are there, also keep in mind that dark chocolate is very high in fats, which in excess can show negative impacts on your health. So as everything goes, moderation is key.
Let’s start by breaking down the macronutrients in dark chocolate. It’s an energy rich food and provides just about 170 calories per ounce. You will also get varying amounts of fat and sugar depending on how the dark chocolate is made. Dark chocolate has gone from a rare treat to a common snack for many healthy eaters and for good reason. It not only tastes great, but as explained above it’s not lacking in health benefits. Lets examine some of those benefits:
It’s good for your heart
Research has shown that having small amounts of dark chocolate 3-4 times a week can help in lowering blood pressure,. Dark chocolate also helps with proper blood flow.
It’s good for your brain
Dark chocolate can help increase blood slow to the brain as well, which can aid in enhancing your cognitive function. This can also help in lowering your risk of a stroke.
Dark Chocolate helps control blood sugar
Proper blood flow helps to keep your blood vessels healthy and working properly. Keeping the flow of blood completely unimpaired can help protect against type two diabetes. Dark chocolate also has a very low glycemic index which does not create a huge skip in blood sugar levels.
Antioxidants help to protect your body from free radicals that can harm you. Lucky for you dark chocolate is loaded with it! Eating foods high in antioxidants can help slow down the aging process and protect from certain types of cancer.
Theobromine is said to harden tooth enamel and this magic ingredient can be found in dark chocolate. This would mean that dark chocolate unlike other candies, will not increase your chances of getting cavities (if eaten in moderation), once you are practicing good dental hygiene.
When choosing dark chocolate, here are a few things that you should look out for:
1. Ensure that sugar is possible the last ingredient on the ingredient list. You’re looking for a brand that essentially has a higher cocoa content than it does sugar. The higher the cocoa content the less sugar the brand may have.
2. High quality dark chocolate should not contain much milk, if any at all. The only exception to this would be milk fat, many chocolate makers use milk fat to add creaminess and flavor, but please not that this is not 100% necessary for making dark chocolate.
3. Dark chocolate is generally flavoured with spices, oils and even extracts to improve its taste, the most common being vanilla extract. If you want to have a flavoured dark chocolate ensure that the chocolate is organic to ensure that the flavouring is natural and not artificial.
4. Try to avoid dark chocolate that contains trans fat. This means that it is more than likely not made with organic ingredients and the risk of heart disease from consuming trans fat is very high.
5. Avoid alkalized or dutched chocolates. This is a process used to change the colour of the chocolate and reduce it’s bitter flavour. Studies have shown that dutching significantly reduces the antioxidant properties of dark chocolate. Therefore taking away its nutritious properties.
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