Chocolate is good for your health? Let’s talk about that
You may have seen our social media post with a healthy recipe called “Chocolate Orange Squares.” Yes, you read that correctly. A healthy recipe… with chocolate. If you haven’t checked it out yet, see the recipe below.
Now you may be questioning everything you know on healthy eating from having the words “healthy” and “chocolate” in the same sentence. Most often, people associate the idea of eating healthy foods with bland tastes and the feeling of chewing on cardboard. You may be saying, “But isn’t chocolate unhealthy and packed with sugar?” Let’s take a stroll through the wonderful world of dark chocolate.
Naturally, you would be correct with your assumption that chocolates are packed with sugar. This is true with milk chocolate (generally 25-33% cacao). However, when you move up the scale of cacao percentages to dark chocolate (35%-100% cacao), we suddenly find ourselves with a very healthy alternative.
Dark chocolate comes from a cocoa bean known as Theobroma Cacao, which literally translates to “Food of the Gods.” The name seems fitting as the ancient Incas, Mayans, and Aztecs believed it to be a source of power. Their belief in this was due to its use as food, as well as a medicine.
Dark chocolate has been found to have an astounding array of health benefits, backed up by of decades of research.
Consumption of dark chocolate has been shown to:
- Lower Blood Pressure
- Improve Circulation
- Improve HDL Cholesterol
- Decrease the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease
- Improve Immune Function
- Improve Brain Function
- Decrease Oxidative Stress
- Reduce Insulin Resistance
- Improve Mood and Well-Being
Recent studies even suggest that the consumption of dark chocolate may result in a reduction of the body’s ability to gain body fat, as well as keep the individual full for longer.
So… How Much Can I Eat?
Though there are numerous benefits to the addition of dark chocolate to your diet, it is best consumed in moderation. Eating 1 ounce (about 28 grams) of dark chocolate, 3 times a week, appears to be an ideal amount to achieve the previously mentioned health benefits.
Another important factor of dark chocolate consumption is to consider the percentage of cacao. When searching the grocery stores, purchasing dark chocolate at 80% cacao or higher will be your healthiest option. The higher percentages will most often provide the best health benefits, while the lower percentages are filled with more milk products and sugars.
For the Female Readers
A couple days of each month, some our female readers may get an overwhelming craving for chocolate. It has been said, that there is simply no replacement for chocolate during this time.
From a physiology standpoint, energy expenditure in the human body greatly increases the few days before a woman’s period begins. This results in cravings for energy dense foods. Dark chocolate is an ideal way to deal with these cravings. The intensity of flavor from the higher percentage dark chocolates has been suggested to diminish intense cravings for longer periods of time. This makes dark chocolate the perfect snack to keep someone trying to lose weight from overeating.
Now, Let’s Get Real Here…
If you are trying to change your diet and lose some weight, adding dark chocolate into your meal plan is perfectly acceptable. On average, 1 ounce (28 g) of around 75-80% cacao dark chocolate has 170 calories and contains around 12 grams of fat. This means that these calories must be considered and placed appropriately to maintain that ideal caloric range for weight loss.
The Genetic Factors
Now, understanding your genetics can play a key role in knowing if and how you would benefit from the consumption of dark chocolate. This becomes very relevant when we look at certain genes. To understand this, let’s throw it in a chart to make it easier to understand.
Yet to unlock your unique fitness DNA to know which variations you have? Receive full FitnessGenes DNA Analysis and a genetically tailored workout and nutrition plan by purchasing a goal specific Genetic Workout System from our online shop.
CHOCOLATE ORANGE SQUARES RECIPE
(For 10 small squares)
Mix in puffed brown rice
Add the melted chocolate to the dry ingredients
Mix ingredients together thoroughly
The finished product: Delicious, Nutritious Chocolate Orange Squares
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Farhat, G., Drummond, S., Fyfe, L., McDougall, G., & Al-Dujaili, E. A. (2015). Comparison of the Effects of High versus Low-Polyphenol Dark Chocolate on Body Weight and Biochemical Markers: A Randomized Trial. EC Nutrition,2(3), 354-364.
Klein, C. (2014). The Sweet History of Chocolate. Retrieved October 12, 2016, from http://www.history.com/news/hungry-history/the-sweet-history-of-chocolate
Savoldelli, R. D., Mok, C. P. Y., da Costa Junior, W. L., Sapienza, A., Bahmad Jr, F., Rocha, J. A., ... & Tavarez, S. (2016). Effect of 12-week dark chocolate intake combined with low-energy diet and exercise on weight loss in obese adults: a phase II randomized controlled trial protocol. Principles and Practice of Clinical Research.
Wirtz, P. H., von Känel, R., Meister, R. E., Arpagaus, A., Treichler, S., Kuebler, U., ... & Ehlert, U. (2014). Dark chocolate intake buffers stress reactivity in humans. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 63(21), 2297-2299.