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Is Dark Chocolate Really Healthy?

By Randi Morse

One of the things I was most afraid of when I was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic was losing the ability to enjoy sweets. I have always loved chocolate, it's my favorite sweet treat to eat. But diabetics aren't supposed to enjoy chocolate, it's got far too much sugar in it. When I met with my dietitian and told him of my concern of being unable to enjoy chocolate anymore, he recommended dark chocolate. While it isn't the perfect solution, as the perfect solution would be chocolate that had no sugar in it, dark chocolate can be an amazing option for people who are trying to keep their sugar intake low. It turns out, dark chocolate also has potential health benefits as well.

What Counts as Dark Chocolate?

Before we discuss the possible health benefits and general goodness of dark chocolate, we should really clarify what, exactly, dark chocolate is. Dark chocolate is any chocolate that contains anywhere from 50 to 90 percent cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar. Milk chocolate, which is what most people are more familiar with and think of when they hear the word "chocolate," has a much lower percentage of cocoa in it, anywhere from 10 to 50 percent. Most dark chocolate does not contain milk, although there may be a slight amount of milk in the dark chocolate due to cross-contamination at the processing factory.

Health Benefits

The big reason why dark chocolate has health benefits is because of flavanols, which have been proven to help support nitric oxide in the blood vessels. Why is this important? Supporting the inner cell lining of the blood vessels helps to improve your blood flow, and that can actually lower blood pressure. There was even a study done that seems to indicate that flavanols found in chocolate can actually increase the sensitivity of insulin which, in the long run, may reduce the risk of diabetes. Can you imagine eating chocolate to avoid having diabetes? It's pretty mind-blowing.

While most dietitians will try to steer everyone away from eating sweets, that's a fairly unrealistic goal. Almost all of us get a craving for something sweet now and again, and dark chocolate may be the best option available to curb that craving. Dark chocolate is a bit more bitter than traditional milk chocolate, so it can take some getting used to, but once you learn to enjoy the taste you'll find that you have a difficult time enjoying milk chocolate.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Mesquite, Tex.

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