If you’ve dreamt of eating chocolate every day, now you have an excuse — or eight.
Scientific studies have shown that dark chocolate — sorry, milk and white chocolate don’t count — is rich in antioxidants and packed with nutrients, making this bittersweet treat a superfood favorite.
Dark chocolate contains phytonutrients called flavonoids, which are plant chemicals that act as antioxidants and may play a role in cancer prevention and heart health, according to research published in 2016 in the Journal of Nutritional Science. The cacao plant that chocolate is derived from also contains a compound called theobromine, which Toby Amidor, RD, a cookbook author and nutrition expert for Food Network, says may help reduce inflammation and potentially lower blood pressure.
“Cacao is packed with numerous antioxidants — actually more than green tea or red wine,” she says. “The darker you go, the more antioxidants you’ll get, but there needs to be a balance between eating palatable dark chocolate and getting the health benefits.”
Your best bet is choosing a bar with 70 percent cacao or higher, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; bars with lower percentages of cacao have more added sugar and unhealthy fats. And even though quality dark chocolate is a better choice than milk chocolate, it is still chocolate, meaning it’s high in calories and saturated fat. To avoid weight gain, Amidor recommends eating no more than 1 ounce (oz) of dark chocolate per day. Now, a look at some benefits this treat offers.
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