Research findings sometimes give people an excuse to indulge in things they should really consume in moderation, such as chocolate, red meat and alcohol. These items may indeed have health-promoting properties, but there are valid reasons they also come with a cautionary footnote. Here’s how you can have your (chocolate) cake and be healthy, too.
The bad news: Processed chocolate can contain a lot of sugar, oils, fats, artificial flavors and preservatives—a candy bar is nowhere in the same nutritional class as pure cocoa.
The good news: The cocoa bean is a rich source of antioxidants, flavonoids (which help reduce muscle soreness after intense workouts), nitrates (which increase blood flow and lower blood pressure), vitamins and essential minerals. Chocolate can also be a powerful mood booster by stimulating the release of endorphins and raising serotonin levels.
How to indulge: The best choices are natural unsweetened cocoa powder (hot chocolate, anyone?) or antioxidant-rich high-quality dark chocolate, with a high percentage of cocoa (70-plus percent). Limit yourself to one or two squares per day.
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