Some women think of chocolate as the oh-so-delectable enemy. One second of luscious chocolatey goodness can expand even the most careful dieters waistline. However, chocolate isnt all bad. In fact, chocolate can positively affect your health in many ways. Read on to learn how to reap chocolates healthy side without losing your figure.
Chocolate contains antioxidants that prevent heart disease, according to a 1996 study conducted by Andrew Waterhouse of the University of California, Davis. These potent antioxidants, called phenols, are the same health-benefiting type found in red wine. These cocoa phenols prevent bad cholesterol from causing plaque buildup in the arteries. Waterhouse also found that the darker the chocolate, the more phenols it contains, so the purest and darkest chocolates are the most likely to provide health benefits.
Not So Fatty
Cocoa butter, one of chocolates main ingredients, is high in saturated fat. However, one-third of chocolates fat is stearic acid. However, stearic acid does not raise LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) like other saturated fats because it is converted in the live to oleic acid, a heart-healthy, monosaturated fat. Another third of fat found in chocolate is already the unsaturated fat oleic acid, the same type of fat in olive oil, which raises good cholesterol (HDL).
Take a Pass on Coffee, Not Chocolate
Although chocolate does contain caffeine, it only contains about 10 mg of the stimulant, as opposed to the 137 milligrams of caffeine in a 5-ounce cup of regular automatic drip coffee or the 30 to 46 milligrams in a 12-ounce can of cola.
Good fats and antioxidants aside, chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a chemical related to amphetamines, raising blood pressure and blood glucose levels. The result? It makes the consumer feel more alert and gives a sense of well being and contentment. This chemical makes the brain release b-endorphin, an opioid peptide, which elevates the mood, or mimics the brain chemistry of a person in love, one reason why chocolate is said to be an aphrodisiac.
Before you rush to the grocery to buy the cartload of chocolate youve dreamt of your whole life, remember that while eating chocolate does benefit your health, it can, like all indulgences, become too much of a good thing. (Especially when your bridesmaid dress doesnt fit a month before the wedding.) Sugar and milk are also ingredients in chocolate, and even though most of the fat in chocolate is good fat, the fat is still there.