3. Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate (also known as black chocolate or plain chocolate) is a form chocolate which contains a higher content of cocoa butter and less milk than other forms of chocolate. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants such as polyphenols and is relatively low in sugar. Dark chocolate has been shown to be a source of heart-protective antioxidants known as flavanols. Raw unprocessed cocoa is a naturally very rich source of flavanols which may result in several heart healthy benefits. Study reports support the role of flavanols in lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow to the brain and heart.
Everyone loves chocolate, and here is one more reason to add it to the list. Your low – density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol becomes oxidized and turns into plaques that can clog the arteries. However, dark chocolate has flavonoids that keep your LDL from oxidizing. This reduces arteriosclerosis. In one study, participants ate a diet low in flavonoids or high in dark chocolate. In just four weeks, those that ate dark chocolate saw a reduction of LDL oxidation of 8% over those on the low flavonoid diet.
Studies have given some recommendations on what to for in determining the healthiest dark chocolates; one of the suggestions is to look for the non – alkalized chocolate that contains the maximum amount of heart healthy flavanols. Secondly, it is also important to look for dark chocolate containing 70% cocoa or higher – the higher the cocoa content, the more antioxidants the chocolate will contain and in addition to heart healthy benefits, the cocoa flavanols may reverse age – related memory decline in older adults. Finally, chocolate is still a source of calories and fats which may displace other important nutrients when consumed in excess. Suggestions are that one should aim for one to two squares per indulgent period or a total of seven squares over a week.