Be a healthy chocoholic

Be a healthy chocoholic

You don’t have to grin and bear your chocolate cravings.You need to train your palate to enjoy healthy chocolate, for it comes with several surprising health benefits, avows Mala Ashok.

Are you a chocoholic? Of course, you are. Is there anybody who doesn’t love chocolate? They’d have to be freaks, if they don’t love chocolates! But if you are a chocoholic, who feels conscience-stricken every time you bite into a decadent chocolate piece, you need not take that guilt trip any more. 

According to a study published in the journal Neurology, last August, researchers found that chocolate may actually help you keep your brains healthy and your thinking sharp. Study participants who drank two cups of cocoa daily for 30 days showed an 8.3 percent increase in blood flow to the brain, and they improved their scores on memory and thinking tests. Bravo!

This new finding is promising, but it's not the only health benefit of eating chocolate. There are many more. We are all on the lookout for some food that is heart healthy. How would you feel if I told you that chocolate fits the bill? You heard it right. Daily chocolate consumption may reduce the risks of heart attacks and stroke in some high-risk patients, according to a study in the British Medical Journal.

Given our sedentary lifestyles, obesity is a very common threat for all of us. So, we frequent gyms and follow health diets assiduously. Wondering where chocolate fits in all of this? Well, if you've always thought of chocolate as a fat-inducing food, you may want to re-acquaint yourself with this tasty treat. One study has found that people who eat chocolate regularly are more likely to be slimmer than those who don’t.

 People in the study who admitted to eating chocolate five times per week or more, had a lower BMI (Body Mass Index) than those who ate chocolate less frequently, according to a study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

On another note, chocolate can help curb appetite for bingeing. Chocolate contains filling fibre, which is a natural appetite suppressant. So, if you give in to that chocolate craving, you may end up eating lesser than if you tried to avoid chocolate. Does that sound too good to be true?

Although there are many reasons to enjoy your bar of chocolate, it's important to be smart about its consumption. The good qualities of chocolate do not give you the license to binge on just about every kind of chocolate. Here are some tips for choosing high-quality chocolate, so you can make the most of all its nutritional goodness:

n The first thing to bear in mind is that the darker the chocolate, the better it is for you. Pure chocolate is actually quite bitter, which is why it is almost always combined with other ingredients in a chocolate bar. But the chocolate part of that bar is what contains the good stuff: fibre, magnesium and antioxidants.
n Make your own hot cocoa. The one that comes in a packet might not be the best option, but it is convenient, and certainly saves you some time. To boost the nutritional profile of your hot cocoa, buy unsweetened powdered chocolate, and add your own sweetener. Keep it as dark as you can handle.

n Get creative with cocoa. If you don't like the idea of eating a dark chocolate bar, or drinking cocoa regularly, you have other options. Try sprinkling powdered cocoa in your oats or cereal. Add a little bit of dark chocolate syrup to your coffee or just sprinkle a dash of dark chocolate powder and drink it.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to grin and bear your chocolate cravings. You just need to train your palate to enjoy healthy chocolate – and no, that is not an oxymoron!

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