Northeastern University Dining Services Blog

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Love Your Heart with Dark Chocolate

Thursday, February 16, 2012 | 12:08 PM Posted by Northeastern Dining , , , , , No comments


IT IS MORE THAN WISHFUL THINKING. CHOCOLATE CAN BE GOOD FOR YOU!
Compiled with assistance by Northeastern graduate student Erin Ross

Made from the cacao tree, dark chocolate is packed with natural antioxidants because it is made with the highest percentage of cocoa solids (65% or more!). Antioxidants are natural compounds found in food and protect the body from aging and disease. But what does this all mean for you?

Dark chocolate sits in the same "good-for-you" category as green tea, blueberries, and dark vegetables and provides two major heart health benefits. First, studies have shown that consuming a small bar of dark chocolate everyday can reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure. Dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10%. Other benefits of dark chocolate include:
  • Low glycemic index means your blood sugar will not spike.
  • Stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure.
  • Contains serotonin which acts as an anti-depressant.
  • Contains theobromine, caffeine, and other substances that are stimulants.
  • It tastes good!

DOESN'T CHOCOLATE HAVE A LOT OF FAT?
Good news! Some fats in chocolate do not impact your cholesterol and only a 1/3 of that fat is bad for you.
  • 1/3 Oleic Acid – a healthy monounsaturated fat that is also found in olive oil.
  • 1/3 Stearic Acid – a saturated fat but one which research shows has a neutral effect on cholesterol.
  • 1/3 Palmitic Acid – a saturated fat that raises cholesterol and heart disease risk.

CHOCOLATE TIP: SKIP THE NOUGAT
Look for pure dark chocolate or dark chocolate with nuts, orange peel or other flavorings. Avoid anything with caramel, nougat or other fillings. These fillings are just adding sugar and fat that may erase many of the benefits you get from eating the chocolate.


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Nutritionist Christine Clark works with Dining Services to provide you with tips and techniques to stay healthy during your time at Northeastern. If you have any further questions about this topic or are looking for more information about any other nutrition or diet topic, such as food allergies or sports nutrition, please contact her at christine.clark2@compass-usa.com.

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