Research reports seem to be rolling in, touting the benefits of dark chocolate—the semi-sweet sensation that has taken over our taste bud fantasies. Can it be true? That something as tasty as a chocolate treat can really be good for us?
The cacao bean from which chocolate is made is loaded with antioxidants which we know to knock out lots of free radicals, helping, it is said, to prevent or fight all kinds of inflammatory conditions, including cancer, heart disease, and premature aging. Some have suggested that antioxidants are beneficial in combating altitude sickness and strokes. Meta-analysis shows that consuming dark chocolate lowers overall cholesterol as well as LDL numbers. And a recent study even reported that dark chocolate is “inversely related” to coronary heart disease. Are you craving those little goodies yet?
The cacao bean also contains neurotransmitters, which are helpful in lifting or calming one’s mood and regulating such important functions as sleep and appetite. Does that mean dark chocolate could help us lose weight? The answer is yes-and-no. It does have a low glycemic index, breaking down slowly and not causing the rapid rise in blood sugar level that most concentrated carbohydrates do. Thus, it seems to have the valuable functions of appetite suppression and satiation.
Before you stock up on dark chocolates of all kinds, however, be advised that the properties mentioned hold true for the chocolate and not for the sugar or other “bad additives” that commercial treats usually contain. So, if you’re concerned about weight control, there are varieties of raw or sugar-free dark chocolate available, and you should keep in mind that it does come with considerable fat and calories. Nevertheless, it’s a healthy dessert or snack, if eaten in moderation, even for dieters.
For those who don’t have to worry about calories, as well as those who do: think of the dark chocolate snack as a delicious and fun nutritional supplement.