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The Daily Dose: Chocolate

Nothing says “I love you” quite like a box of chocolates. It’s the surprise and delight of what you get in that box that also makes them fun. The beauty of chocolate is that it’s such a simple thing that creates such complexity of joy. But before you stuff your face full of cocoa, let’s take a moment to enjoy some of the rich health benefits that chocolate has to offer, as well as some of the poor. You might be surprisingly delighted.

There are two kinds of chocolate for your health-dark chocolate and not dark chocolate. It’s the ingredients like high fructose corn syrup, chemical additives, and other sugars and fats that give chocolate a lousy reputation. In its pure form, dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, including polyphenols, flavonols, and catechins. Regular consumption of moderate amounts of chocolate may increase blood flow, decrease oxidized LDL cholesterol, and reduce insulin resistance. Flavonols protect against sun damage. The compounds in dark chocolate may benefit your heart by lessening cholesterol in your arteries. It also certainly satisfies your soul. No wonder it’s so wrapped up in the language of love.

When it comes to choosing your chocolate, just pretend you are trying to pass a test. You want at least a 70%, and over 80% or 90% is even better. This, of course, relates to the amount of real cocoa that’s in your decadent dessert. Watch out for sugar content and ingredients that you can’t pronounce. If you prefer the chocolate that puts you into a turbocharged hyperdrive, just make sure you don’t overdo it and you’ll avoid crashing into a brick wall. Moderation is the key. So if you need to turn that frown upside down, just keep some chocolate around.