In the month of February, we celebrate Valentine's Day, a day of expressing love. Chocolates are a gift that is commonly given on that day. This is one gift we enjoy to our hearts’ content. Besides Valentine’s Day, people enjoy chocolate just because it tastes great. Chocolate lovers share how chocolate makes their day. The sweetness of chocolate is a guilty pleasure for many people. However, is chocolate really a guilty pleasure? Are there any health benefits to chocolate?
What is Chocolate Made From?
Chocolate is made from the cocoa plant, where many of the nutrients come from. The cocoa plant contains flavonoids, which protect the plants from environmental toxins. Cocoa also contains antioxidants, which help fight against the damage your body goes through. One antioxidant, flavanol, is great for vascular or heart health, as in lowering blood pressure. Flavonoids are also found in fruits and vegetables like apples, cranberries, and peanuts.
Enjoy Chocolates in Moderation
For health reasons, chocolate is best eaten in small portions and not large amounts. Studies show that dark chocolate has the highest amounts of flavanols and antioxidants due to having larger amounts of cocoa. Most chocolate consumed goes through processing, where nutrients are lost. However, many companies are finding ways to keep more nutrients in chocolate products.
Milk chocolate and white chocolate have fewer amounts of flavanols, or nutrients, due to less cocoa. Even dark chocolate with fillings, like caramel or cream, still need to be eaten in moderation because they have high amounts of fat and sugar. Experts recommend that you can eat about 1 ounce of chocolate a few times a week.
A Little Goes a Long Way
Experts state that chocolates consumed in healthy amounts can reduce the risk of other ailments. Here are some other areas where consuming healthy portions of chocolate improves your health:
Lowers cholesterol — Studies show that eating chocolate bars with plant sterols and cocoa flavanols in a low-fat diet, can reduce the bad or LDL cholesterol.
Improves cognitive function — Some scientists found that older people who drank two cups of hot chocolate daily and reduced memory decline.
Helps with fetal development for pregnant women — One study showed eating one ounce of chocolate daily, or 30g, can benefit fetal development.
Athletic performance — One study found that when cyclists ate small pieces of dark chocolate, they used less oxygen while cycling at a moderate pace.
February is also National Heart Health Month, to reduce the rate of heart disease. Now is the time to focus on what is good for our hearts. So do not worry about chocolate as a guilty pleasure but enjoy small portions of it weekly.
Annie's Sweets has all types of chocolates for chocolate lovers and others. You can order a bag of chocolate hearts that are bite size for your heart's content. Order some treats today at our site, for your weekly portion of chocolate.