26. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate is a healthy way to scratch the chocolate itch while still providing some health benefits. This kind of chocolate is made from the cacao plant and differs from commercial chocolate as it doesn’t contain any added sugar, cocoa butter or milk. Dark chocolate has a higher concentration of cacao and the healthiest versions have at least 70% cacao solids (but an even higher level is better).
Chocolate without the unhealthy additions is packed full of antioxidants that protect the body, especially so, the heart and brain. Dark chocolate is full of flavanols, types of antioxidants, that help to stimulate nitric oxide in the body which lowers blood pressure.
It’s also full of polyphenols which are important in helping to lower bad LDL cholesterol while raising good HDL cholesterol. Since dark chocolate is primarily made of healthy fats, it’s low in sugar and has a low glycaemic index. This means that it doesn’t cause sugar spikes that can lead to further cravings – so we get all the joy of chocolate, without the unhealthy part, meaning that if we’re a chocoholic and switch to dark chocolate, we may well lose weight!
Dark chocolate is still fairly calorie dense but 20-30 grams per day (a few squares) is seen as a beneficial, healthy snack.
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