Bless your dark chocolate heart

Kelly Burgess

Kelly Burgess

“Hey Kelly…Do you happen to have…Do you care if I have some of your…” 

“Sure, go right ahead…it’s right there on my desk!”

It’s not a pencil, a piece of gum or a paper that you can count on me for, as you might expect. Anybody who knows me at all knows I always have a supply of dark chocolate on hand.

Dark chocolate may not be my love language, but let’s just say it’s always there for me when I need it. A great, sunny day is the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to a piece of dark chocolate. Days when you have a pile of homework as tall as Cravens Library are also excellent opportunities for a little chocolate pick-me-up.

Maybe it’s just me, but dark chocolate is my go-to in almost any situation, so I always keep it close at hand. I used to think it was a bad thing I had developed a reputation for always harboring a stash of dark chocolate, but now I proudly ‘fess up to the fact.

Not only is it an acceptable habit to snack on dark chocolate, but health experts and my amateur self-included, champion the rich, flavorful bean for its many health benefits. With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, there’s no better time to talk about the benefits of dark chocolate.

Being a rich source of antioxidants is just one of the many health benefits of dark chocolate. Other more widely known sources of antioxidants are blueberries, acai berries, and green or black tea. Antioxidants are so important to have in the body because they play a key role in preventing cancer and other chronic diseases.

Dark chocolate is also a good source of minerals and other nutrients, including iron, magnesium and fiber. Just an ounce of dark chocolate provides 19 percent and 16 percent of your daily iron and magnesium needs, respectively.

Iron is necessary for proper functioning of the main body processes, including transporting oxygen in the blood and sustaining muscle endurance. Magnesium is just as important as calcium in promoting bone health, as well! The same amount of dark chocolate also provides 12 percent of daily fiber needs, which offers a host of health benefits, especially for the digestive system.

In the spirit of the season of love, it would be a disservice not to mention the benefits of dark chocolate to heart health as well. Consistent consumption of moderate portions of dark chocolate have been proven to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, and raise HDL (good) cholesterol! This is the exact opposite effect of trans-fats in the body. Dark chocolate also lowers fasting blood glucose levels, which is important for people with diabetics, or for anyone looking to maintain optimal health.

One last question you may be considering is how much is one ounce of dark chocolate? A regular size candy bar is usually about 1.5 ounces of chocolate, and a Hershey kiss is about 0.16 ounce. Also, it is important to look for 75 to 90 percent cacao varieties when shopping for your daily dose.

As tasty and beneficial as it is, I caution you against eating too much of the coco-colored gold. One ounce daily is all you need to reap health benefits, without adding too many calories and sugar to your daily tab.

This Valentines Day, bless your heart in a new way, and savor just a little of my favorite treat.