Recent studies have shown that you can satisfy your sweetheart’s chocolate cravings in a healthy way, provided you give dark chocolate. We crave chocolate for its aroma, creaminess and comforting flavor.

In recent years health conscious consumers have been delighted to discover that dark chocolate in its purest form is loaded with health-boosting phytonutrients and flavonoids, both powerful antioxidants that help combat free radicals in the body.

At high levels, free radicals may cause cell damage. Some experts believe that cellular damage caused by free radicals may be a factor in age-related health conditions. As a person gets older, the level of damage from free radicals in the body may increase, leading to cell damage and functional problems.

Dark chocolate also has small amounts of other healthy substances like magnesium, potassium, calcium, and iron. It contains high levels of tryptophan, an essential amino acid that increases the production of serotonin, antidepressants and stress relievers. Keeping up your tryptophan level may prevent cravings for starchy and sweet foods, which can help you if you are trying to lose weight.

Some of the significant health benefits of dark chocolate include:
• Can help increase HDL or the “good” cholesterol.
• Helps keep blood platelets from sticking together, thereby reducing the risk of blood clots.
• Reduces overall risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure.
• Helps fight depression by boosting serotonin levels in the brain.

Unfortunately, many chocolate confections are processed with refined sugar, milk fats and hydrogenated oils that override the health benefits of the cocoa. The more the cocoa is processed and combined with other ingredients, the less healthy it is. For best results, choose dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa and that contains cocoa butter instead of milk fats. If you have never eaten dark chocolate you may have to gradually adjust your taste buds to the bitter taste. Start with dark chocolate that is about 40-50 percent cocoa. After that, try the 60, 70 or 80 percent versions. For maximum health benefits you should go with the highest cocoa content.

It is important to note that these benefits apply to dark chocolate only and it can’t just be “added on” to your existing diet. It is still a high-calorie food and most people don’t need extra calories. As a plant-based food, dark chocolate can be part of a healthy diet when used in moderation.

Author's Bio: 

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