February is Heart Health month. Now most people wouldn’t link chocolate to heart health but small amounts of DARK chocolate actually do have healthy benefits for your heart.
When I changed to a healthy, plant based diet a lot of sweet treats became a distant memory.
First of all, most of them are made with dairy and second I became really aware of my sugar intake. Most desserts and sweets have more sugar in one bite than we need for an entire day!
And believe it or not, the less sugar you eat, the less you crave…
Sugar is a scientifically proven addictive substance — as powerful as any drug. It releases feel good hormones that give you a sugar high (literally). That is why we want it so much and the more we consume, the more we want.
But sometimes we need a bite of sweetness…
This is how I ended up falling in love with dark chocolate. It is dairy free, plant based, is minimally processed and is lower in sugar than milk or white chocolate. It is rich in antioxidants, iron, copper and as it turns out, it actually has heart health benefits — I love when something delicious has health benefits!
Now this doesn’t mean I’m eating a dark chocolate bar a day…and I’m definitely not recommending that. Moderation my friends.
Many research studies have been done on the relationship between dark chocolate and heart health and have found that small amounts can help lower blood pressure, improve blood flow to the heart and brain and maintain good cholesterol levels.
How sweet 😉
BUYING DARK CHOCOLATE — WHAT TO LOOK FOR…
Note: A label that says “dark chocolate” doesn’t necessarily make it a healthy choice. Here are a few things to look for when reading the label.
- minimally processed dark chocolate with a cacao content of at least 70% (the higher the percentage, the greater the potential health benefits)
- created from fairly traded or organic cocoa/cacao beans (cacao should be the main ingredient)
- it should be made from cocoa butter, not palm and/or coconut oils and definitely NO hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list
When you have a craving for something sweet, try a small square of dark chocolate. Its rich flavour will fulfill your craving and provide you with a few extra heart healthy benefits…xo
Originally published at medium.com