Forget the fruit rollups and goldfish crackers. Chocolate is the healthy Halloween treat.
The list of health benefits from chocolate keeps getting longer.
Ounce for ounce, dark chocolate and cocoa contain more antioxidants than such good-for-you foods as green tea and blueberries. Antioxidants work by neutralizing unstable molecules that can trigger changes in the structure of normally healthy cells. Antioxidants in chocolate can lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol. They can decrease complications in pregnant women, reduce the risk of stroke, cancer, and heart disease, and mitigate the brain’s response to pain.
The good news just keeps getting better.
Food scientists have recently developed a cocoa-processing method that retains more flavenols. Flavenols are a class of antioxidant that increases blood flow to the brain. The improved flow seems to have the most impact on the mathematical parts of the brain: drinking two cups of cocoa a day has been found to significantly improve fluency with basic computational problems as well as complex math problems, and test subjects report less mental exhaustion. Flavenols also slow the decline of memory and protect the brain from other age-related deteriorations.
There’s a right way and a wrong way to eat chocolate.
Just because it’s a wonder food, you don’t want to indulge indiscriminately.
The darker the chocolate, the better
Dark chocolate is much richer in antioxidants than milk or white chocolate. The higher the percentage of cocoa (most quality chocolates are labeled with this information) the greater the health benefits.
Avoid the high calorie extras
Caramel, marshmallow, nonpareils— not a lot of antioxidants; stick with plain, dark chocolate, or maybe chocolate with fruit or nuts.
Skip the milk
Milk consumed with chocolate interferes with the antioxidants. It’s a shame. They do taste good together.
Always sound advice. Especially with a high-calorie food like chocolate where health benefits can be quickly outweighed by over-indulgence.