HEALTHY HABITS◽ YOU
We switched over from milk chocolate to dark chocolate only, a good while back. We used to take a box of Goobers (chocolate covered peanuts) with us to the theater to enjoy with our popcorn. Then we went to a chocolate factory and learned that if dark chocolate bars are a certain percentage of cacao, they are really good for your heart! At first the taste was a little bitter, but now we actually prefer the dark over the milk!
I decided to do a bit of research to find out just how healthy chocolate can be, since this is the month where chocolates are flying off the shelves and landing in our mouths!
I’m not a chocolate maker or a doctor, but here are some things I found out about chocolate from the American Heart Association, Healthline, and WebMd.
Milk chocolate contains about 10% cocoa. Cocoa is the heated version of cacao (I did not know that!) Cacao is the raw form of chocolate and the percentage in a dark chocolate bar is often printed on the paper cover. White chocolate only contains cocoa butter – no cocoa solids at all!
If we choose a milk chocolate bar versus a dark chocolate bar of the same size, we will get about the same number of calories. However, the milk chocolate bar will contain about twice the sugar.
There are some that suggest that the bigger percentage of cacao in a dark chocolate the more heart healthy benefits there are, but it’s not conclusive enough to suggest downing huge amounts of that dark sweetness. Dark chocolate is loaded with compounds that do function as antioxidants. And if it does indeed lower blood pressure as some suggest, it’s very slight. And dark chocolate can improve risk factors for heart disease, including lowering cholesterol. Some studies show that the flavanols in dark chocolate can help protect our skin from sun damage!
All of the above is interesting and probably worth noting, BUT it doesn’t mean we can consume excess amounts of dark chocolate and call it healthy! Bummer, I know.
However, making a switch from milk to dark might be a good start as well as these other ideas when the box of candy lands in your lap or on your table:
Enlist the help of a disciplined person in the house (or a friend) to hold you accountable for only eating one piece per day and no more!
Eat your meal, wait a while, and see if you’re still craving chocolate. Sometimes we eat it right after a meal and then feel stuffed.
Include a few squares of the dark chocolate (70% or more) in your diet daily, until you no longer have a sweet tooth for the milk or white chocolate. It will take a while, but it will happen…
Consider eating one square of chocolate with a few nuts, instead of an entire chocolate bar. The nuts are good for you, too!
Drink a large glass of water before consuming chocolate. You’ll feel full before you start with the first bite.
Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals cause cravings. And cravings cause indulging. And indulging causes guilt.
Have you tried chocolate tea? Some say it satisfies the craving without the calories.
If stress is creating the craving, take a walk, lie down, and mediate on the Word…instead.
My favorite 70% chocolate bar is by Lindt. I’ve tried several other brands and this particular one is creamy and tastes SO good, alongside a few peanuts or almonds. We gave up butter on our popcorn long ago, and now just plain popcorn with a few squares of dark chocolate and a few nuts really serves as a fun meal while the action plays in front of us on the big screen, and we snuggle together when the last piece is eaten…until the credits roll.