Dark chocolateChocolate. Just saying the word can make you feel better. Have you ever met someone who told you they didn’t really like chocolate? These troubled individuals do exist, and they must be telling a white (chocolate?) lie. The scrumptious, flavorful treat comes in many forms, and if you need a “chocolate fix”, you can find a thousand ways to get it. Just as numerous as the ways to indulge chocolate are the stories and opinions about the delicacy’s deterrent to your health as well as it’s benefits to your health. So what should you believe about chocolate? Is it all bad? Should it be avoided? Let’s clear some things up:

Milk vs. White vs. Dark. Research is clear. Milk chocolate and white chocolate do not have many health benefits. While milk, white, and dark chocolate are all high in fat and calories, it’s dark chocolate that actually has properties to aid in heart health. White chocolate contains the most fat out of the three.

Benefits of Dark Chocolate. So how does dark chocolate help the heart? First, no nutritionist or doctor will ever tell you to eat dark chocolate whenever you want. The same is true of other foods with great benefits. Everything is to be consumed in proportion, especially dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants similar to those found in fruits and vegetables (but not as many). 100% raw cocoa is packed with flavanols and catechins, which are powerful phytonutrients. Dark chocolate can increase circulation, decrease inflammation, boost HDL (the good cholesterol) and reduce LDL (the bad cholesterol). Your blood pressure can also be lowered and your insulin resistance improved. Dark chocolate can also help your mood and make you feel fuller and less hungry! How cool is that?

Know The Difference. Don’t start adding chocolate syrup to everything you eat and think it’s healthy. Don’t eat a bunch of candy bars either just because they say “dark chocolate”. Take a look at what other ingredients are added. Cocoa powder, 100% raw cocoa, and cocoa nibs (great in yogurt) are the purest form.

How Much? Aim for around 1 oz (or 7 grams) of dark chocolate per serving. You don’t always have to buy 100% cocoa, as 70% or more will due. You can eat a few servings a day, but pay attention to the calories. If you implement dark chocolate into your diet, you can always decrease some calories in other parts of your diet.