Valentine Chocolate

by Terri Bryce Reeves, Senior Staff Writer

Turns out dear old Mom may have actually been wrong, at least when it comes to
dark chocolate.
More and more studies are proving that chocolate, a substance that’s been
consumed and loved by humans for thousands of years, actually can be good for you
– at least in its purest, darkest form and in small quantities.
Here’s the rundown on this Valentine’s Day favorite — the good, the bad, and
yes, the ugly.

The Good
• When it comes to chocolate, darker is better. Dark chocolate contains less sugar
and more cacao(the bean that chocolate is made from) than its white and milk
chocolate counterparts. Look for chocolate that is at least 70 percent cocoa content or
higher.
• Dark chocolate is considered an antioxidant-rich superfood containing many
healthy components that help combat free radicals and protect the body from disease.
• Researchers have found that eating dark chocolate every day can reduce the risk of
heart disease by a third.
• Flavonoids (substances in chocolate) widen arteries by helping to lower blood
pressure and improving blood flow to the heart and brain. Flavonoids can reduce the
build-up of plaque and help prevent stroke. Their properties may also reduce the risk
of diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity.
• Consumption of flavonoid-rich foods is associated with better cognitive function.
• Next time you’re stressed, light a chocolate-scented candle. The smell of chocolate
increases theta brain waves, which trigger relaxation.

The Bad
• Chocolate can cause headaches so those who suffer from migraines or chronic
headaches should probably avoid it.
• Because chocolate contains high doses of caffeine and sugar, chocolate products
have been blamed for ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in children.
It is also toxic to dogs so keep it away from your four-legged pals.
• Most chocolate contains lots of calories, sugar and fats so don’t overdo. Being
overweight or obese can have all sorts of negative health consequences, including
diabetes. Too much sugar can lead to tooth decay. A small piece a day should do.

The Ugly
• Maybe you’re better off not knowing this, but if you’ve eaten chocolate, you’ve
eaten bugs. The FDA allows trace amounts of insect parts in food and unfortunately
bugs are crazy about the stuff, just like us.

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