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The Suburbanite
Barbara Burns blogs about eating right and a healthy lifestyle.
Eating Dark Chocolate…Only For The Health Benefits?
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About this blog
By Barbara Burns
Barbara Burns professes to be the “non-diet” dietitian, believing instead it is more important to promote and adapt a healthy lifestyle. For healthier living, she balances eating right, exercise and just the right kind of fun! Her personal and ...
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In Good Health
Barbara Burns professes to be the “non-diet” dietitian, believing instead it is more important to promote and adapt a healthy lifestyle. For healthier living, she balances eating right, exercise and just the right kind of fun! Her personal and professional focus has been to transform how we feed our kids and teens. As the Director of Child Nutrition Services at the Carrollton Exempted Village School District she now has the pleasure of doing this one school lunch at a time!
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In recent studies, dark chocolate was found to improve (lower) LDL or ''bad
In recent studies, dark chocolate was found to improve (lower) LDL or ''bad" cholesterol.
Dec. 31, 2013 12:19 p.m.

Eating dark chocolate only for the health benefits?

Of course we all are, right? Who could miss this morsel of news? New research showing that chocolate's reputation is on the rise! It isn't all good news.

In recent studies, dark chocolate was found to improve (lower) LDL or ''bad" cholesterol. It was also found to improve (raise) HDL or "good" cholesterol, and in some cases chocolate was found to lower blood pressure and increase vascular function. In addition, some research has linked chocolate consumption to reduced risks of diabetes, stroke and heart attack.

Chocolate, after all, is made from cocoa which comes from the cocoa bean, a plant. The cocoa in dark chocolate contains plant based nutrients called polyphenols, specifically flavenols. Polyphenols are natural antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules which fight inflammation. This is good because inflammation, specifically, low grade chronic inflammation, is a silent killer in our body, and contributes to the development of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and other negative effects of aging.

For best nutritional benefits, the chocolate should have only minimal amounts of added sugar. Aim for the regular dark chocolate containing 70% cocoa. The cocoa solids contain healthy compounds with the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

One quick reminder to all chocolate lovers that chocolate is not a health food yet! Moderation is key. Limit yourself to around 3 ounces a day (IF YOU CAN AFFORD THE CALORIES!). This is the amount some studies have shown to be helpful. Remember to eat dark chocolate, not white or milk chocolate and make sure you adjust for the calories accompanying these nutrition benefits and step up the exercise regime. Just 3 ounces provides up to 450 calories. You don't want to gain weight. This will increase your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

(Personally, I keep my chocolate available in bite-sized morsels in the freezer to both encourage and limit my dosage.) I also feel it is my nutritional and professional obligation to share this recent bit of unfortunate news. I JUST heard this morning on the news: The prediction for 2014 is that the price of chocolate will rise 26%! They did not attribute the rise in price to the health benefits.

A bit more info: I also read that most of the studies involving chocolate were short-term and uncontrolled, so more research is needed. Hmmm….Maybe they will need new test subjects? No spoonful of sugar needed here to help the medicine go down! All in the name of science and health!

"Chemically speaking, chocolate really is the world's perfect food." – Michael Levine

Some days, I couldn't agree more! In Good Health, Barbara Burns

More on chocolate found here: The History of Chocolate Slideshow from WebMD.

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