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Have Your Chocolate and Eat It, Too

By Amy Silva

Some people believe chocolate is bad for their health and they avoid it as such, but that's not always the case. Like other guilty pleasures, chocolate isn't so bad when enjoyed in moderation, although there is one kind of chocolate that is better for you than the others. Studies show that dark chocolate can make one feel a little less guilty about indulging when there may be added health benefits. There is debate whether one type of chocolate should be in another food category altogether. Read below to find out which one. 

How Dark Chocolate Is Made

Cocoa beans, or seeds, come from inside a fruit that grows on cacao trees. Cacao trees can be found in many different countries today but are native to South America. During harvest, the seeds are left to ferment for up to seven days after being covered with banana leaves. Then they're cleaned, roasted and have the hulls removed in chocolate factories. What's left after this process is the nib, which is then smashed down into a paste called chocolate liquor (there's no alcohol), and mixed with cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla and lecithin. The result is dark chocolate. Milk chocolate and white chocolate contain different ingredients, and some say white chocolate shouldn't be categorized as chocolate at all because it doesn't contain chocolate liquor like dark and milk chocolate do.

The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate has more antioxidants than red wine, blueberries, acai berries or green tea and may reduce the risk for stroke and heart disease. It contains minerals like magnesium, copper, iron and potassium. Having fiber is another benefit. Dark chocolate may improve brain function and help boost mood. Studies show it can raise HDL, or good cholesterol, and lower LDL, or bad cholesterol.

Eat This Much

Dark chocolate that has a high content of cocoa is a great choice when giving into a sweet craving. However, be sure to shop for dark chocolate that has at least 70 percent cacao. It does have potential health benefits but still contains sugar and high calories. The higher the cocoa content, the more bitter it is. This may come as a shock to some people trying it for the first time and comparing it to milk chocolate or other chocolate treats that are loaded with sugar and fat. Dark chocolate is often purchased in bars, which is convenient when they can be broken into squares. It should be enjoyed in moderation so avoid eating the entire bar in one sitting and aim for no more than 1 ounce of dark chocolate each day.

Go ahead and give in to your cravings now and again, it can be good for your health.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Seal Beach, Calif.

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