April 7, 2009

Chocolate - No Longer Junk Food!


Enough is known about chocolate now to justifiably make the following statement, "Chocolate is good for you and no longer just an empty calorie junk food!" Did you know chocolate has been linked to lower blood pressure? Lower cholesterol? Increased insulin sensitivity? Improved blood flow to the brain? Reduced inflamation? Improved texture of the skin? Happiness -- well, that last one is no surprise to a chocolate lover!

What is it that makes chocolate so wonderful, not just to the taste buds, but all the health benefits just listed? The positive health benefits can be attributed to flavonol antioxidants (flavonols). Flavonols come from ground, fermented cocoa seeds. Take out the cocoa butter and sugar from chocolate and flavonols are what's left. Dark chocolate has more flavonols than milk chocolate and forget white chocolate which is not a true chocolate. White chocolate is made from cocoa butter and sugar containing no flavonols. The darker the chocolate, the better it is for your body because there are more of those wonderful flavonols. However, not all dark chocolate is created equal. Flavonols can be destroyed during processing, i.e., dutched and alkalized cocoa products.

Moderation is, of course, a must for healthy chocolate consumption. Cocoa powder itself is virtually fat-free. Chocolate, however, contains a significant amount of sugar and fat thus calories. Just one ounce of chocolate contains abut 200 calories and 10 grams of fat .. BUT 1 oz. is an adequate amount to reap the benefits noted in this article! So, eat smart. If you are going to begin including an ounce of chocolate in your diet, counteract the extra calories by eliminating it somewhere else in your diet. Last note -- If you want the health benefits of cocoa without the calories added to make chocolate, try adding cocoa powder in a smoothie made from banana, yogurt, milk, frozen berries and a touch of honey - yum!

For more information on chocolate and a list of some of the top rated flavonol-containing chocolates, go to: http://www.astrologyzine.com/healthy-chocolate.shtml

------------------
Written by: Laura S. Garrett, RD
-- Registered Dietitian & ACE Certified Personal Trainer
-- Keep Laura's advice at your fingertips, wherever you and your cell phone go with "Text ur R.D."
-- Learn more at: http://www.NutrActive.com