Monday, June 29, 2009

Dark Chocolate Fanatic!

Dark chocolate hits the spot. You may need to eat an entire milk chocolate bar to satisfy your chocolate craving, whereas just 1-2 squares of dark chocolate can really do the trick. I added a link to the Hershey's Extra Dark collection. They come in three flavors: pure dark chocolate; cranberries, almonds & blueberries; and cranberries & macadamia. I tried the first two - yum! Two squares check in at about 115 calories total and 8g of fat (about 3g of this are saturated). How does this scrumptious treat fit in to your day? Depending on your age, body weight, and activity level, most daytime snacks should range anywhere from 100-250 calories.

Why dark chocolate over milk chocolate? True, both have calories, fat, and sugar - nutrients that most of us are trying to keep on the low end. But dark chocolate is one of those beneficial foods, rather than an empty calorie food. Empty calorie foods are just that: foods with calories, but no nutritional value. They won't satisfy your hunger and offer little or no health benefits to your diet. Your body gets something out of a beneficial food, such as vitamins, minerals and in the case of dark chocolate, antioxidants. Antioxidants are also found in red wine, a variety of berries, beans, and many other natural foods. Antioxidants have been shown to slow oxidative stress in the body, or damage to the cells by free radicals, which contributes to heart disease and diabetes.

You will reap the most benefits from dark chocolate with the highest cocoa content. Most scientific studies note to shoot for at least 70% cocoa (or cacao). These Hershey bars are only 60%, but I still think they taste great and are a better option than other sweet treats you could be snacking on. Some of the Hershey's Cacao Reserve bars provide 65% cacao.

And remember, just 1 or 2 squares per day to keep your added sugar and fat intake down. Other sources of antioxidants are lower in sugar and fat, such as berries. Here's to chocolate!

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