As we head towards the holidays (or as I like to call it, sweets season) there is temptation everywhere for overindulgence. Before you dive headfirst into the Skittles and Twizzlers, consider chocolate as an occasional treat. Ghirardelli has traced chocolate back more than 4,000 years to the culture of the Mayas in Central and South America.
It was introduced to Europe in the 1500s but reinvented by European chocolatiers as a sweet confection. In the 1800s, it was re-introduced to Americans and remains a favorite snack and dessert. Though chocolate is usually high in fat and calories it does have some healthful benefits for your mind, body and as some might contend, your soul.
Chocolate for your Body
In February 2010, ABC News reported that people who ate a serving of chocolate each week were 22 percent less likely to have a stroke than those who ate no chocolate. Though some cardiologists are skeptical of studies that yielded these results, most agree that chocolate demonstrated positive effects on the very factors directly linked to stroke risk, including blood pressure, blood-vessel function and blood flow, and lipid levels.
Chocolate for your Mind
It’s an old cliche that women munch on chocolate when they’re feeling down, but it’s been suggested that chocolate boosts serotonin, our body’ s mood regulating hormone. Chocolate may also raise endorphins which can help lift the spirits. Before you reach for a candy bar though, you can probably get an even better endorphin rush by hitting the gym.
Chocolate for your Soul
Chocolate is not only rich and delectable, it’s actually good for you – in moderation, of course. 1 oz of a high-quality chocolate packs more than twice the healthy antioxidant punch as red wine, so you can feel good about your indulgence and avoid the guilty backlash that sometimes accompanies indulgence.