Is chocolate a healthy food to be considered when deciding what foods to eat when you are weight training or participating in a fitness program? Yes and dark chocolate should be your choice.
In fact, dark chocolate is loaded with key essential nutrients that can have a positive effect on improving your health. It is an antioxidant and helps to lower the risk of heart disease with compounds such as polyphenols, flavonol and catechins. But remember to stay away from milk chocolate as the added milk and sugar is not what you want to stay lean and not gain excess fat.
Also, look for more of the organic chocolate in the range of 70% or greater cacao. I, personally, like a 70% because any greater percentage to me starts to get bitter. But try, say, an 80%, you may like it. Experiment but be sure to stick with the motto “the darker the better!”
Dark chocolate contains needed fiber as well as healthy amounts of iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. There are calories, of course, but in these chocolates, sugar is minimal. The fat is mostly saturated and monounsaturated with a small amount of polyunsaturates.
Another study has found that dark chocolate may be great for your skin. The flavonol can actually protect against sun-induced damage and improve blood flow to the skin which helps to increase skin density and hydration.
Other than being a delicious snack, the benefits are numerous for adding dark chocolate to your diet and more are being discovered every day through research. For example, it also helps to lower your blood pressure and is a big deterrent against strokes and heart attacks, as we mentioned earlier. The fat in chocolate is actually in the form of oleic acid, typically found in olive oil, which is found to have antioxidant properties.
What about improving the function of the brain? Yes again! One study showed that consuming high flavonol cocoa improved blood flow to the brain thus improving cognition and verbal fluency in elderly people. It also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine.
Dark chocolate (70% >) helps to prevent diabetes and obesity by inhibiting blood sugar issues and to improve mood because of the chemical serotonin which is a natural anti-depressant.
Remember, to get minimum 70% cacao. There are brands that offer 80% up to 90%. These are known as semi-sweet and mostly used for baking. Remember, again, the “more bitter the better.” Just know that if you love chocolate and love working out, knowing the hidden health benefits of consuming dark chocolate can get you past the bitter. Enjoy.