Healthy Living

The Delicious Benefits of Chocolate

The Delicious Benefits of Chocolate

It's hard to believe that it is May and that Mother's Day is around the corner! Being huge chocolate lovers, we started thinking about chocolate and wondered if we could add it to our healthy living list of good things. It turns out we can!  And we concluded that a nice box of chocolates is a great gift for the Mom in your life this Mother’s Day (assuming she likes chocolate too of course).  Not only are the treats delicious, but they come full of nutritional benefits. Just one ounce of dark chocolate packs plenty of antioxidants and flavanols.

Before delving further into these awesome benefits, however, it’s important to note that not just any type of chocolate will suffice. To reap the most benefits, chocoholics should partake in dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa. Often, chocolate with 55% or more is marked as dark. Make sure to read the label to be sure that your chocolate has a sufficient percentage of cocoa.

5 Benefits of Dark Chocolate

  • Healthier Heart
    • Dark chocolate can help reduce your risk of heart disease with antioxidants—just don’t consume it with milk. Milk seems to interfere with the body’s ability to absorb the antioxidants featured in chocolate.
  • Lowers Blood Pressure
    • If you have mild high blood pressure, incorporating some dark chocolate into your diet may help you reduce your blood pressure by lowering your bad cholesterol levels. The darker the chocolate, the better.
  • Healthier Skin
    • Those flavonols found in dark chocolate can actually help protect your skin from sun damage. In addition, dark chocolate can help reduce moisture loss in skin by up to 25%.
  • Improved Focus
    • Chocolate increases blood flow to the brain, which can help you maintain focus on your tasks.
  • Enhances Mood
    • Chocolate makes you happy! It’s a natural pick me up, so why not add a square to your daily snack? The small bit of caffeine can be a great midday boost.

Now, some people may not be a fan of dark chocolate, which is okay too. If you’re not into bars or truffles, consider using cocoa powder in a smoothie or munching on some cacao nibs. When using cocoa powder, opt for non-dutch processed powder as processing removes more antioxidants and make sure to skip the milk so as not to counteract the benefits. Whether you’re pro-bar or not, here’s a simple recipe to help you incorporate some of that yummy cocoa into your life.

Yummy Dark Chocolate Smoothie Recipe

Makes about 20 ounces for one large or two small smoothies.

 

Ingredients

3 pitted dates, softened in hot water for three minutes

1 cup of your favorite unsweetened chocolate nut milk (consider almond or cashew)

1 cup ice (crush if your blender requires)

½ banana, sliced and frozen

1 tablespoon unsweetened (non-dutch processed) cocoa powder

1 (5.3 oz) container soy vanilla yogurt

 

First, blend the dates and milk until smooth. Then add remaining ingredients and gradually increase blender speed until desired consistency is attained.

Drink and enjoy! And maybe consider blending one up for mom, too! As always, thanks for reading and feel free to reach out at healthyliving@modernkidsdesign.com to let us know what you think and what you'd like us to write about.