Perhaps you have already eaten all of your Easter chocolates, and now maybe you are suffering some guilt, and will avoid chocolate for a while. But you don’t need to.
You can go out this week and buy more, and even make it part of your daily healthy diet. With each bite, you could be making yourself a little healthier….if you do it right.
What makes chocolate healthy is that cocoa beans contain high amounts of anti-oxidant compounds called “flavonoids”, also found in foods such as red wine, oranges, red onions, berries, and teas (especially green and white). These flavonoids protect your cells from damage; especially the cells in your heart and blood vessels.
Five buying and eating hints:
1. Buy the darkest chocolate you can find.
The flavonoids contained in the cocoa are one reason raw chocolate is so bitter. When chocolate is processed, the bitterness is removed, and as it is made smoother and sweeter, the healthy part of the chocolate is removed.
Some chocolates now come with a “percentage cocoa” on the label. Look for 65% cocoa or above, or buy the highest level you can. If you can’t find a percentage, buy the bitter or dark variety.
2. Avoid white chocolate.
This should probably not even be called “chocolate” because it doesn’t contain any of the dark solid parts of the bean. White chocolate is basically a high-calorie sugar candy; it is in no way healthy.
3. Don’t drink milk when you eat chocolate.
Some research has shown that milk inhibits the absorption of flavonoids. This is still controversial, but until this is decided by further research, probably it’s good to avoid milk when eating chocolate.
This also means avoid “milk chocolate” if you can, and stick to darker varieties.
4. Eat the right “dose”.
The only bad part of chocolate (by the way, chocolate does not cause acne) is that it has lots of calories. It is high in fat, but most of the fats are of a healthy variety.
The recommended daily amount is 25 to 85 grams of dark chocolate. Note that 85 grams may represent 450 calories. So, for chocolate to be a health food, you may need to cut back on some other snacks to compensate for the additional calories. You could cut back on high carbohydrate or fatty snacks like chips or salgadinhos. Instead of other desserts like ice cream, have a few square of chocolate.
5. Buy without the “extras”, or only with nuts added.
Avoid chocolate bars that contain high-sugar fillings such as caramel, but nuts are ok.
Finally, we end on a sad but also a hopeful note. The sad news is that while in Europe and the U.S., chocolate with over 65% cocoa is easy to find, here in Brazil, the land of cocoa, it is still uncommon. Manufacturers believe Brazilians want everything sweet, and are not so concerned about the health aspect of foods. But Brazil is getting smarter—for example, organic foods are becoming much easier to find.
Do yourself a favor, and request that your supermarket carries high percentage cocoa chocolate. In the meantime, if you only buy one bar a week, splurge on the 85% one. And don’t worry, with time your palate will prefer this healthy chocolate, and the others will seem like candy.
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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)