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Valentine's Day and the Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate | Be Well Medical

Box of assorted chocolates with a red chocolate heart contrasting with the candies around it

Who doesn't love the sweet, rich taste of chocolate? Most people know that dark chocolate has a wonderful flavor and can satisfy even the strongest cravings. But did you know this delicious treat can also have great health benefits? In this article, we'll dive into what makes dark chocolate unique and why you should indulge in some dark chocolate with no guilt.

What Makes Dark Chocolate So Special?

Dark chocolate is made from cocoa beans that are fermented, dried, roasted, and ground into a paste. This paste is mixed with sugar and other ingredients to create the final product. Most importantly, dark chocolate contains cocoa solids that are high in antioxidants called flavanols. Flavanols are beneficial for your heart health as they help promote healthy blood flow and reduce bad cholesterol levels. Dark chocolate is known for its high antioxidant content, which helps protect our cells from damage. The more antioxidants we consume, the better our bodies can fight off free radicals that can wreak havoc on our immune systems. Flavanols, linked to improved heart health and blood flow, pack dark chocolate with benefits as a healthy energy source.

Dark chocolate contains caffeine and other stimulants like theobromine, which make it an excellent pre-workout snack or pick-me-up throughout the day. It is lower in sugar than other types of candy, making it a much healthier option and providing long-lasting energy without any crashes later!

Mood Booster

Eating dark chocolate has been linked to improved moods due to its levels of phenylethylamine (PEA). PEA is a type of endorphin – the same type found in exercise – that causes us to feel pleasure when released into the brain. That's why eating chocolate can put us in a good mood! Studies have also shown that dark chocolate increases serotonin levels, helping us feel calmer and happier after eating it. We all know that feeling after having a few pieces of dark chocolate—pure bliss!

Dark Chocolate May Help Reduce Stress

Studies have shown that eating dark chocolate can help reduce stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine. Why? Well, the antioxidants found in dark chocolate help fight inflammation which can lead to lower stress levels over time. Additionally, the magnesium in dark chocolate helps relax muscles and promote sleep, which is essential for reducing stress levels.

Who said that eating healthy can't be enjoyable? From helping boost your mood to reducing stress levels and providing a healthy source of energy, there are many reasons why you should add some dark chocolate into your daily routine (in moderation, of course!). So go ahead – treat yourself to some delicious (and healthy!) dark chocolates today and enjoy its many benefits!

Nichole Shiffler, NMD Dr. Nichole Shiffler is a naturopathic primary care physician and medical director of Be Well Medical Primary Care. Dr. Shiffler focuses her practice on women's and pediatric medicine. Dr. Shiffler also has an extensive history of treating irregular menstrual cycles, thyroid disease, menopause, acne, PCOS, and diabetes. She utilizes nutrition and herbal medicine to deliver an effective treatment plan to her patients. Dr. Shiffler is available for patient care at Be Well Medical Primary Care. Call (480) 219-9900 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shiffler.

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