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Chocolate: Just the Facts

By Sara Butler

Chocolate has been around for so long that it's reached mythical levels. It was enjoyed by the Mayans thousands of years ago and is enjoyed today in all of its dark, gooey goodness. But in the time that chocolate has been around, it's gotten a bad reputation on a few fronts. New research is starting to shed some light on a few things we always thought we knew about chocolate. Here are a few sweet chocolate facts you need in your life.

Chocolate Myth No. 1: It's High in Caffeine

You can't indulge in chocolate too late at night because it'll keep you up, right? Not so fast.

Chocolate may work to give you a little pep in your step, but it doesn't have very much caffeine in it at all. In fact, one cup of chocolate milk has about the same caffeine content as one cup of decaf coffee, about 6 milligrams. Regular coffee clocks in at anywhere from 65 to 135 milligrams. So, as you can see, chocolate doesn't quite stack up.

Chocolate Myth No. 2: Chocolate is Filled With Saturated Fat

There's been this idea floating around that chocolate is full of saturated fat and, because of that, it will shoot up your blood cholesterol levels. Again, this is not true.

Recent research has shown that the main saturated fat in chocolate, stearic acid, is a unique saturated fat. It won't raise your cholesterol the same way that other saturated fats do and may actually increase your good cholesterol levels. So, you know, indulge within reason without worrying about your cholesterol levels!

Chocolate Myth No. 3: Chocolate Has No Nutritional Value

This one is not grounded in reality at all! Chocolate actually is a great source of zinc, iron, magnesium, and copper. It's full of an antioxidant called polyphenol, which is associated with a lower risk of coronary artery disease.

Dark chocolate has more antioxidants than milk chocolate and can help to lower your blood pressure as it reduces your insulin resistance too. That doesn't mean if you have high blood pressure you should go on a chocolate-heavy diet, but it does mean that it's not as damaging to your health as you may have been led to believe.

While chocolate isn't something you can overindulge in on the regular in order to stay healthy, it does make for a delicious -- and healthy -- treat if you know what to look for. So, keep some dark chocolate, at least 70 percent cocoa, on hand to help you deal with your sweet cravings.

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

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