The way to my heart is with chocolate.
Dark chocolate with sea salt is pure heaven on my taste buds.
If I were to create the country’s food plate or pyramid, there’s many things I would change, but I’d include a daily dose of chocolate.
I doubt it will be hard to convince most people to eat a little chocolate, but just for fun, I’ll fill you in on the health benefits of magnesium-rich chocolate.
Chocolate comes from cacoa beans, which are stocked with antioxidants, particularly flavanols. It rivals antioxidant powerhouses like blueberries, and the flavanols are the same health-promoting compounds found in red wine and green tea.
Chocolate is also great for your heart, and studies have shown chocolate can trigger nitric oxide production. This works to relax and dilate your blood vessels in order to lower your blood pressure and promote good blood flow in the body. February is heart health month, so go ahead and share a bar with those you love.
It may also be good for blood sugar regulation by improving insulin sensitivity to help get sugar out of your blood and into your cells to burn for energy!
Of course, one of the vital reasons people consume chocolate is it makes them feel good! I’m not saying a pint of chocolate Ben & Jerry’s will make you feel good after a rough day, but small amounts of dark chocolate works on the brain to release endorphins, or feel-good chemicals. Chocolate stimulates the release of the compound PEA, which is the same compound released when people fall in love.
If you want the best taste and most health benefits, the Hershey’s bar isn’t gonna cut it. Instead, reach for the dark chocolate. Most dark chocolate bars will list a percentage of cocoa on the label. The higher the percentage, the less sugar to cancel out the benefits. Typically, I go for dark chocolate bars with at least 70% cocoa, but if you’re daring and love the bitter taste, choose one with 80-90%+ cocoa solids. I promise it’s delicious!
Of course, chocolate, milk or dark, should still be enjoyed in moderation. Enjoy a square as a nightly treat that you look forward to. Eat it mindfully, and savor each bite.
Chocolate is usually my splurge treat. Since I really look forward to a small piece a few nights a week, I’m willing to pay for high-quality, dark chocolate. I try to buy a high-quality, sustainable bar, such as fair trade ones, that are environmentally friendly and care about the livelihood of the cocoa bean farmers.
Here’s some of my favorite bars:
- Green & Black’s Bars – especially the 85% dark
- Divine – 70% with ginger and orange
- Endangered Species – 72% with sea salt and almonds (highly recommend!)
If you’re struggling with a Valentine’s Day gift for someone you love, stick with a classic gift: chocolate.
My valentine doesn’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I have a feeling he will love this chocolate chili I’m planning on making.
Share the gift of chocolate with yourself and those you love, and savor this heart-healthy treat on Thursday.