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It’s news any woman would be happy to hear! Yes, chocolate can play a part in your healthy diet, and can even help you lose weight!
But, not just any chocolate. Unfortunately, candy bars and chocolate cake aren’t part of the equation. We’re talking specifically about pure dark chocolate of 70% or more.
Let’s explore what dark chocolate is made of, its health benefits and how it can help us lose weight!
Dark chocolate is made using the beans from the inside of pods which grow on cacao trees. It’s this raw cacao that is responsible for the health benefits that we’ll talk about later in this article. The beans are lightly fermented and sun dried, and then they’re roasted. They’re then ground up and heated until they are liquid, and cacao butter is pressed out of the liquid, leaving behind chocolate liquor.
To make the purest high quality dark chocolate this chocolate liquor is combined with cacao butter, a small amount of sugar and vanilla. Popular grocery store varieties like Hershey’s Special Dark are also made with additional ingredients like milk and artificial flavors. Lower quality varieties also include vegetable fats.
What Are The Percents All About?
The percentage values in dark chocolate refer to the amount of cacao vs. sugar in the chocolate. For example, 85% dark chocolate contains 85% cacao and 15% sugar. The higher the percentage, the less sweet and the more bitter the dark chocolate. 70 – 75% dark chocolate is still fairly sweet while 80 – 85% dark chocolate is a bit less sweet with more cacao flavor. Even at the higher percentages, dark chocolate is still creamy, rich and delectable!
Dark chocolate has a surprising amount of health benefits. It’s good for your brain, as it improves blood flow and reduces the risk of stroke. It also contains a chemical compound called phenylethylamine (PEA) which can help with mood. PEA is the same chemical that your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love, which is why so many women are in love with chocolate!
Since dark chocolate improves blood flow, it is also great for heart health. It can help lower blood pressure, decrease the risk of blood clot formation, and maybe even prevent hardening of the arteries.
Dark chocolate is also loaded with antioxidants which can help prevent cancer and slow the signs of aging. Unlike most other sweets, dark chocolate may also be good for dental hygiene because it contains theobromine, a compound that has been shown to harden tooth enamel.
Dark chocolate also contains several vitamins and minerals including potassium, copper, magnesium and iron. That’s a lot of great health reasons to include dark chocolate in your diet!
Another of dark chocolate’s amazing health benefits is that it can help support weight loss in a few different ways.
First, dark chocolate helps control blood sugar by reducing insulin resistance and helping your body to use insulin efficiently. It’s low on the glycemic index which means it won’t cause blood sugar spikes. Keeping steady insulin levels is key to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
Many women have difficulties with emotional eating, which is eating specific foods in order ‘feel better’ or suppress negative feelings. Emotional eating leads many women to binge on unhealthy foods, which in turn can create a lifelong struggle with weight.
Other women struggle with food cravings, which may not be related to emotional eating, but instead to a type of food addiction. In the case of emotional eating and food cravings, dark chocolate can be a help.
Since dark chocolate is both sweet and rich, it can help satisfy cravings for sugary or fatty foods. It may be a good stand-in if you’re trying to cut back on these unhealthy foods. While emotional eaters will ultimately need to look at the root cause of their emotional issues, the feel-good compound PEA in dark chocolate may also help improve mood.
Because of its richness and low sugar content, dark chocolate is hard to overeat. Most women find that just a few squares are enough to soothe cravings. While dark chocolate should be considered a treat, it is significantly less sinful than it may seem!
Are you interested in finding more healthy foods to get hooked on? Our Athlean-XX for Women nutrition plan will help you rediscover how enjoyable healthy eating can be. Our plan recommends combining proteins and slow-burning carbohydrates at every meal and snack to help keep you feeling full. In fact, the Athlean-XX for Women nutrition plan is anything but a diet – we actually recommend you eat more – 5 – 6 times per day! This type of diet will help turn your metabolism into a fat burning machine – when combined with our killer 30 minute workouts. Yes, with Athlean-XX for Women, eat more, exercise shorter but harder and weigh less! Join us on Team Athlean to start your lifestyle makeover now!
P.S. We are a growing community dedicated to and passionate about realistic fitness and nutrition for REAL women. If you enjoyed this post please feel free to share on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. It would be incredibly appreciated!
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