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Healthy You

Snack on This: Chocolate, a Healthy Treat

Thursday, July 25, 2019 2:00 PM

Research suggests that chocolate is beneficial to your health. While certain forms of chocolate have high fat and sugar content, there are some healthier options. 

Dark Chocolate

Don't take that as permission to rush out and buy all the candy bars you can find. When it comes to chocolate's health benefits, type matters. Not all chocolate is created equal and moderating your consumption (regardless of the type) is key.

Curtis Mann, MD, NorthShore Primary Care physician, breaks down the health benefits of chocolate and shares some tips for picking the "healthiest" chocolate just in time for the heart's favorite holiday:

  • It must be dark chocolate! Dark chocolate contains antioxidants, and specifically flavonoids, that some studies have linked to cancer prevention, reductions in circulatory system inflammation and the ability to lower high blood pressure. It’s important to note that dark chocolate also contains less added sugar than milk and white chocolates. Chocolate with at least 60% cacao is best for health benefits.
  • Read the label carefully. It’s best to choose a chocolate that uses cocoa butter (a natural saturated fat also found in olive oil) rather than butterfat. Limiting your daily amount of fat (saturated and unsaturated) consumption is imperative for maintaining a healthy weight.
  • Chocolate can enhance your mood. Its ingredients include phenethylamine, which releases endorphins linked to pleasure; and anandamide, that triggers feelings of happiness and elation. Chocolate also increases serotonin levels in your brain, which can aid a variety of psychological functions, including sleep and appetite.