Cozy evenings hibernating at home call for one thing: excessive chocolate consumption. I don’t think it’s just me—sweet teeth come into their own as Christmas approaches and the candy bowl is passed around with wild abandon. But, as we are all aware, chocolate is not good for us. Or is it?
According to Tim Spector, MD, a professor of genetic epidemiology at King’s College London and scientific cofounder of the personalized nutrition program Zoe, actually it is—you’ve just got to get the right kind. “I’ve got news for you,” he said in a video on his Instagram page. “Chocolate is a health food.” He’s not talking about Dairy Milk or Galaxy bars, though, but dark chocolate that’s more than 70% cocoa.
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
With “around 10 grams of fiber, more than half the average intake of fiber in most Western countries,” Dr. Spector notes, dark chocolate is also packed with polyphenols. While fiber is key for managing blood-sugar levels, improving gut health, and lowering inflammation, polyphenols are a compound found in plant foods with strong antioxidant power, among other health-boosting benefits.
Studies Show Dark Chocolate Can Help Prevent Heart Disease
In the video, Dr. Spector references a recent (and large) study of 20,000 people over three and a half years. Those who took cocoa-extract supplements during this time were 20% less likely to die of heart disease than the placebo group. So yes, actually, dark chocolate really is worth incorporating into your diet for better health.
Which Dark Chocolate Is the Healthiest?
As mentioned, it’s all about opting for organic bars that are more than 70% cocoa, but you should also check the label to ensure your chosen chocolate contains a minimal number of ingredients. The fewer the additives—and the less sugar—the better. “Artisan [chocolate bars] are the best ones—they’ve only got two or three ingredients in them,” Dr. Spector says, name-checking cocoa and fermented beans as two heroes.
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