Friday, March 13, 2009

Enjoy A Bite of Chocolate

If you’re searching for a sweet treat but don’t want to throw off your healthful eating plan too much consider adding a small amount of dark chocolate.

Chocolate, more specifically cocoa, has been a part of medicinally treatment for centuries with early usage going back to use for stomach or intestinal complaints to the current interest related to heart disease. Cocoa, like all other plants, contains a wide variety of phytochemicals but is rich in flavanol which seems to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Flavanol’s help keep blood vessels healthy thus allowing for continuous flow of blood preventing blood clots. Other research studies have looked at cocoa and blood pressure reduction with some positive outcomes.

Studies continue to show that inclusion of cocoa may provide positive health benefits but questions remain in terms of how much, how often and do these benefits translate to chocolate. At the current time studies make it clear that the health benefits are found in the cocoa so chocolate would have to contain a high percentage of cocoa to yield any health benefits. Current evidence points to dark chocolate as a preferable choice for potential health benefits.

While chocolate may contain health benefits it definitely contains calories so using it to promote health is not the right idea. Enjoying some dark chocolate and potentially reaping health benefits is the best way to look at inclusion of chocolate in your eating plan. If chocolate is a part of your routine make sure you choose dark chocolate. Choose small pieces to help control quantity and make sure you enjoy your chocolate as a part of a healthful eating plan.

Tips for the Week
· Choose dark chocolate either plain or with nuts or fruit
· Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables for their phytochemical content
· Keep physical activity in your daily routine to offset the chocolate calories

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