I hope you all had a wonderful Easter and didn’t fill up on too much chocolate. But if you did hopefully some of the at was dark chocolate! Comparing all the different chocolates white chocolate gets 3rd place with the highest amount of sugar. But when comparing milk chocolate to dark chocolate and if only looking at calories and fat, milk chocolate appears to come out on top!
When looking purely at calories it is hard to get a good read on any food product as far as the quality and nutrient density goes. Non nutrient dense foods go through your system faster and do not give satiety, leaving you to eat more and more. For example, a fast-food meal (fries, burger, and a pop) can easily reach up to 1600 calories and still leave you feeling hungry. This meal guarantees high in sodium, saturated fat, and sugar, which only adds to your hip and waistline as well as negative health consequences if eaten regularly. Eating nutrient dense foods, you can eat 1600 calories in a whole day and feel satisfied along with more energy and mind clarity. Seems like a no brainer!
Dark chocolate is one of these nutrient dense foods but must be at least 72% or higher to qualify. First of all chocolate comes from cocao, a plant with high levels of minerals and antioxidants called flavonoids. Dark chocolate has large derivatives from this plant whereas milk chocolate contains little. Dark chocolate also has 4x the fiber, less carbohydrates, 1/2 the sugar, 1/4 more iron and the fats it does contain are healthy monounsaturated fatty acids or MUFAs. Monounsaturated fats are healthy fats also found in olive oil, avocados and certain nuts. Evidence and several studies on different chronic conditions show that MUFA’s have a number of health benefits. They can help with weight loss, reduce the risk of heart disease, decrease inflammation, reduce LDL cholesterol and also increase “good” HDL cholesterol. An encouraging study in regards to breast cancer, consisted of 642 women and the women with the highest amounts of oleic acid, a type of MUFA found in olive oil, in their fat tissue had the lowest rates of breast cancer.
Also the flavanols in the dark chocolate as mentioned earlier have a host of benefits as well. They help with blood pressure by stimulating nitric oxide production which causes blood vessels to dilate (widen) allowing for improved blood flow and lowering blood pressure. Flavanols may also help prevent neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer and Parkinson’s by enhancing neuroplasticity, (the brain’s ability to reorganize itself), particularly in response to injury and disease.
With all those benefits it’s worth it to do the switch from milk to dark chocolate. So here are some ways for you to get over the bitterness and make the chocolate tolerable until you get used to it.
- Melt and dip strawberries in to make chocolate covered strawberries
- Smear with a natural (no added sugars) nut butter of choice to make a natural healthy peanut butter cup.
- Melt and dip in raw nuts make your own chocolate covered nuts
- Shave the chocolate or buy pure cocoa and grind some nuts add some natural sweetener as honey roll into balls over l shredded unsweetened coconut.
- Make a natural hot chocolate with pure cocoa, add stevia and frothed milk. Although heating can cause it to lose some of its beneficial properties, but it is still without the added sugars.
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