By Anran Shao
You read that title right; it is possible to indulge in your favorite dessert while still reaping health benefits! If you find yourself craving chocolate, reach for a bar that contains the nutrient benefits listed below, as well as high quality ingredients to ensure that your next treat to yourself is nothing but a bite of silky smooth bliss.
Benefits of chocolate
- Research has proven that chocolate can lower cholesterol. Chocolate contains flavonoids which protect against heart disease, allowing chocolate to be used as a short-term intervention to lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and total cholesterol levels. LDL is the “bad” cholesterol that collects in the wall of your blood vessels, where it can cause blockages and put you at a greater risk for a heart attack from a sudden blood clot.
- Chocolate can reduce stress levels. Homework assignments, exams, lab reports, and all of the above can easily be overwhelming for the average college student. It’s important to know when you need a break to do something for yourself, like treating yourself to an occasional chocolate break! Eating chocolate can both reduce stress and improve your mood by increasing your serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain!
- Eating chocolate can potentially control your appetite. Chocolate is high in fat, which makes you feel fuller for a longer period of time, preventing unwanted snacking. Another great benefit of chocolate it its insulin sensitivity; in other words, it can improve your body’s ability to absorb sugars rather than store them as fat. Even just smelling chocolate can decrease ghrelin, the hormone responsible for hunger!
How to choose high quality chocolate
Today, dark chocolate is generally accepted as the healthiest. It contains more cocoa than other palatable products and therefore can maximize the benefits mentioned above. Milk chocolate and others varieties of chocolate that contain excess sugar are more likely to prevent gaining the maximal benefits offered by pure chocolate.
Here are some tips to buy high-quality chocolate:
- Take a look at the ingredients. Healthier varieties of chocolate have cocoa solids and cocoa butter as top ingredients. Avoid chocolates that have sugar as the top ingredient or include additional fats or Dutch cocoa.
- Check the date the chocolate was made. The more recently the chocolate was made, the fresher it will be, resulting in better quality. Dark chocolate is recommended to be eaten within 1 year, and milk chocolate within 6 months, and white chocolate within 8 months.
- Observe the texture of the chocolate. High quality chocolate will have a glossy surface and the surface should be consistently the same color; poor quality or aged chocolate will have noticeable blemish and whitish crystals (sure does sound appetizing).
Now that you’ve read up on the health benefits of chocolate and how to choose the chocolate of the highest quality, you don’t have to feel guilty when you satisfy your sweet tooth. Let eating chocolate become a part of change toward your healthier lifestyle, consuming it in moderation while still keeping a healthy diet and exercise routine!