Can Dark Chocolate Be Healthy For You?
PARK CITY, Utah — Ritual Chocolate in Park City is home to artisan chocolate makers and around Valentine’s Day, they’re extra busy. Co-Founder Robbie Stout said their chocolate-making process is a labor of love.
They handcraft their chocolate from bean to bar using the finest cacao from Madagascar, Mexico, Belize, Ecuador, and Peru.
“Through every step of the process, we are picking up the chocolate and doing something with it by hand,” he said. It takes about two weeks to make one batch of bars from scratch to finish.
Stout said eating dark chocolate is all about the experience. “Let it melt in your mouth and there’s really kind of a roller coaster flavor,” he described. “It can be really bright and fruity or it can be fudgy, or it can be floral,” Stout said each variety has a different taste.
The National Retail Federation estimates Americans are going to spend 1.8 billion dollars on Valentines candy this year. Candy may seem like an unhealthy choice, but experts are saying if consumers spend their money on dark chocolate, it could be a smart decision.
Intermountain Healthcare’s Emily Perkins, a registered dietician at Primary Children’s Hospital, said chocolate 70 percent cacao or higher is actually good. She said anything below that percentage is more of candy and higher in sugar and fat.
“A true dark chocolate has two to three times as many flavonoids and polyphenols, which are the good stuff, than milk chocolate,” she explained.
Perkins said dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants, which can improve your heart health.
“They have been shown to help lower blood pressure and to help reduce your risk for cardiovascular disease,” she said.
Perkins said antioxidants decrease inflammation which can stress out the body’s blood vessels.
Like any sweet, however, Perkins reminds people to eat it in moderation. She encourages people to eat should only have one to two small pieces a week to avoid weight gain, which could counteract the health benefits of dark chocolate.
Chocolate connoisseurs like Stout can’t stay away though. “You could definitely eat dark chocolate guilt-free,” he said. “I eat chocolate every day.”
Although Stout agreed chocolate can be a high-calorie food, he said they are healthy calories he burns through when exercising.
Stout said dark chocolate is high in nitrates, which can improve his athletic performance.
Perkins said the key to not eating too many goodies on Valentine’s Day or any holiday is to plan out your meals. She said that will help limit your sugar intake and make your dessert more enjoyable.
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