By Casey Seamon, YMCA Registered Dietitian
With love in the air this month, the overwhelming urge to indulge in a box of chocolates is hard to ignore. While there is no such thing as a bad food—all foods can fit in a healthy lifestyle—there are some foods that should be enjoyed in moderation. This includes chocolate.
But isn’t dark chocolate good for you? The short and sweet answer is yes, it absolutely can be! Let’s take a closer look at the healthy side of dark chocolate and figure out how to choose the best kind.
Loco for cocoa
The biggest difference between dark, milk and white chocolate is the amount of cocoa solids present. Those cocoa solids hold the nutrients. So, more cocoa solids means more concentrated health benefits.
- White chocolate has zero cocoa solids (hence the white color), meaning that it doesn’t contain any of the nutrients.
- Milk chocolate typically contains about 10-50% cocoa solids.
- Dark chocolate contains 50-90% cocoa solids.
The great thing about these cocoa solids is that they have flavanols, naturally-occurring compounds which act as antioxidants in your body. They can help fight inflammation, relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure. Amazing, right?
The darker, the better
The general rule of thumb with dark chocolate is the darker, the better. When you’re searching the candy aisle, look for at least 70% to get the most out of your treat.
Now, remember that I mentioned moderation? Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. We know this. In chocolate’s case, the calories and fat content will add up.
However, another great thing about dark chocolate is that it has a richer, deeper and more intense flavor. So, you can get your sweet tooth fix out of a small portion.
As Valentine’s Day approaches and you find yourself perusing boxes of chocolates, go dark and share it with a friend!