The average American consumes about 12 pounds of chocolate per year. That’s a lot of M&Ms.
Unfortunately, the potential health benefits of processed, highly sweetened chocolate are slim to none. So if M&Ms are your chocolate of choice, you need to find a different fix.
The good news? The health benefits of dark chocolate - the only type of chocolate we use at Step One Foods - are numerous and quite impressive.
Here are just a few:
- Dark chocolate is chock full of flavonols and polyphenols which act as antioxidants. In fact, antioxidant levels in dark chocolate rival the antioxidant levels of various antioxidant superfoods like cranberries, blueberries and pomegranate. And if you’re a regular reader of this blog you already know that antioxidants fight inflammation, a key contributor to heart disease.
- Those flavanols also help lower blood pressure and improve blood flow to the heart and brain.
- And they help make blood platelets less sticky, which reduces the risk of blood clots and stroke.
- Multiple studies have shown that dark chocolate can help improve cholesterol levels – even though it contains saturated fat. The cocoa butter found in dark chocolate contains equal amounts of oleic acid (the same heart-healthy monounsaturated fat found in olive oil), as well as stearic and palmitic acids. Stearic and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fat, but research shows that stearic acid appears to have a neutral effect on cholesterol. Palmitic acid can increase cholesterol levels, but it only makes up a small portion of the fat found in dark chocolate.
- Studies have also shown that “intake of flavonoid-rich food, including chocolate, wine, and tea, is associated with better performance across several cognitive abilities and that the associations are dose dependent.” In other words, dark chocolate makes you smarter.
All great news for Valentine’s Day!