ROUND ROCK, Texas -- Raynelle Shelley, a registered dietitian at Scott & White Healthcare-Round Rock, says dark chocolate is the chocolate of choice when you want to say “I love you” in a healthy way.
According to Shelley, dark chocolate contains flavonoids -- chemicals that are found in the extracts of the cocoa bean. Flavonoids are “antioxidants,” substances that help protect our bodies from harmful free radicals that can damage the body. Choose dark chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa (70% or higher) to give your body more of these healthy antioxidants. In addition, some types of chocolate are now enriched with plant sterols, which have been shown to reduce a person’s risk of coronary heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol levels.
Some other health advantages of chocolate include:
• It may lower blood pressure: Studies have shown that consuming a small bar of dark chocolate everyday can reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure.
• It can lower your cholesterol: Dark chocolate has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent.
• It stimulates endorphin production, which provides a feeling of pleasure
• It contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant
• Dark chocolate has less sugar than regular milk chocolate (better for your teeth)
• Remember to read the label and make sure the first ingredient isn't sugar!
Shelley says that “it’s still important to be mindful that dark chocolate contains a lot of calories, mostly from fat, so be sure to be mindful of how much you eat. A little love and a little bit of dark chocolate go a long way!”