Chocolate can be good for you

bowl of fruit

According to the Cleveland Clinic, chocolate (in moderation) is heart healthy. Before you run out to the store an load up on Haloween and Easter supplies, it is important to understand how and why, in moderation, chocolate can be beneficial to your health.

Chocolate has made its way onto the 'okat to eat' list recently because it is believed that it might help protect your cardiovascular system. The reasoning is flavonoids found in the cocoa bean is rich in a class of plant nutrients and toxins that can help repair damage to the heart. They can be found in a variety of foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and when we eat foods rich in flavonoids, it appears the body experiences a boost in antioxidants.

Antioxidants are believed to help the body's cells resist damage caused by free radicals that are formed by normal bodily processes, such as breathing, and from environmental contaminants, like cigarette smoke. If your body does not have enough antioxidants to combat the amount of oxidation that occurs, it can become damaged by free radicals. For example, an increase in oxidation can cause low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as "bad" cholesterol, to form plaque on the artery walls. Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. In addition to having antioxidant benefits, research shows that flavanols can also improve blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less likely to clot.

What about all of the fat in chocolate?

You may be surprised to learn that chocolate isn’t as bad for you as once thought. The fat in chocolate comes from cocoa butter and is made up of oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. But Stearic and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fat, which are linked to increases in LDL cholesterol and the risk of heart disease, so moderation is key. So sadly, you can't go out and eat all the chocolate you want. If you like dark chocolate, choose plain and avoid all of the other ingredients candy bar makers like to mix in, like caramel and marshmallows. A small piece of dark chocolate is okay once in a while, like 1 or 2 ounces

Here is our complete list of all six ways you can help get heart healthy.

by The Editors of Healthy Starts Made Simple