Nutrition, q&a

Is dark chocolate good for your heart?

February is American Heart Month, with Wear Red Day (a day for increasing awareness of heart disease in women) this Friday, February 5, 2021.

Coincidentally, today is Dark Chocolate Day. I thought this was a good day to discuss any potential health benefits from dark chocolate as it often gets billed as a “superfood” or people in varying levels of seriousness consume it as a health food.

Dark chocolate

So is dark chocolate good for you?

Here is the science. Cocoa solids (which what determines the “darkness” of a chocolate item) contain flavonoids called flavanols. These are antioxidants that could be beneficial in lowering the risk of insulin resistance and high blood pressure and lowering LDL cholesterol. By having more cocoa solids, dark chocolate should have more of these beneficial flavanols.

HOWEVER, consuming enough of these flavanols to have a health effect is just not likely, even for most chocoholics.

On the flip side, dark chocolate candy tends to have the same amount of calories but half the sugar as traditional milk chocolate. Lowering your sugar intake is beneficial. And if it has a few antioxidants, even better.

So back to answer the question: On it’s own, I would not recommend ADDING dark chocolate to your diet. BUT, I would recommend SUBSTITUTING dark chocolate for other sweets that are higher in sugar (while trying to consume all sweets in moderation). Tomorrow, I’ll share a recipe for a dark chocolate pudding with reduced sugar that knocked my socks off. In the mean time, have a happy, healthy heart!

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