Rich, creamy, delicious chocolate. It is probably our No. 1 food for guilty pleasure. But, it doesn’t have to be. Besides the great taste, chocolate has many good attributes, including the following.


Rich, creamy, delicious chocolate. It is probably our No. 1 food for guilty pleasure. But, it doesn’t have to be. Besides the great taste, chocolate has many good attributes, including the following.
Chocolate contains antioxidants. Antioxidants help combat damage done to our cells from things like pollution, sun exposure, cigarette smoke and more.
After a workout, grab a glass of (fat-free) chocolate milk, instead of a sports drink. Chocolate milk has the right mix of protein, energy and carbohydrates to help your muscles recover after exercise.
Chocolate is one of nature’s leading sources of a substance called theobromine. Recent research has shown that theobromine helps suppress coughing. Who wouldn’t rather eat a piece of chocolate than take some flavored cough syrup?
The flavonols in chocolate help make the platelets in your blood less sticky. This is good because less sticky means less clotting. Less clotting means a lower risk of heart attack or stroke. Chocolate has been shown to help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol as well as helping to reduce blood pressure.
The high flavonol content of chocolate helps protect your skin from harmful UV light damage.
Eating chocolate is a mood booster. A compound in chocolate called phenylethylamine helps release the feel good endorphins in our bodies. In addition, it seems that eating chocolate significantly can reduce the levels of stress hormones in the body.
Chocolate has been shown to improve blood flow to the brain. This may help with brain function and vascular problems.
But before you head to the store, you should know that you will get the biggest health benefits from dark chocolate or cocoa. Added ingredients, like milk, sugar, caramel, and nougat, just add calories without benefits.
Keep in mind chocolate does come with calories, so portion control is important. If a little is good, a lot isn’t necessarily better.
Anita Marlay, R.D., L.D., is a dietitian in the cardiac rehab department at Lake Regional Health System in Osage Beach.