Recently, there has been much hype around the touted health benefits of one of everyone’s favorite treats: Chocolate.
Chocolate’s origins began in Mesoamerica, where archaeological evidence shows that people have been consuming the stuff reaching as far back as 1900 BC. Later, following expeditions to the Americas, Europeans were introduced to chocolate in the 16th century. They would quickly develop a taste for it and were responsible for first adding sugar to the otherwise bitter food. It would become a staple in European fare.
Fast forward to today: Once considered and indulgence, more and more people are now regarding chocolate as health tonic as opposed to merely a treat or dessert. This is because, research continues to affirm its legion of purported health benefits. Naturally, when something as delicious as chocolate is found to have some health benefits, people are quick to indulge! Here is what some of the research says about the health benefits of chocolate:
- Eating chocolate can reduce your risk of stroke
- Chocolate has a variety of heart benefits, including lowering blood pressure and “bad” cholesterol
- Chocolate can increase blood flow
- Chocolate may improve insulin function
- As if anyone needed scientific confirmation, eating chocolate can aid in boosting mood
Researchers are quick to point out that eating chocolate in this case does not necessarily mean reaching for the nearest candy bar; most of the studies instead involve dark chocolate, which has a much higher percentage of the bean, itself, and is generally more bitter. Regardless, it would seem that eating chocolate would be a no-brainer. But, for those of us adhering to The Phase One or Phase Two Diet, how does chocolate fit within our dietary framework?
The problem with chocolate products––like many other “healthy” products––is that they generally come loaded with sugar. This is something to be cognizant of when shopping for products with advertised health claims; while those products may indeed contain healthy nutrients, they often contain other, unhealthy ingredients, rendering their purported health benefits less potent than they would have you believe.
That said, it is possible to find chocolate sans the added sugar. How does this fit within our dietary framework? Remember that chocolate is derived from a bean (legume), which are generally relegated to The Phase Two Diet, in moderation. Therefore, enjoying some chocolate (preferably the kinds free of added dairy or sugar) on The Phase Two Diet may be ok. In this particular case, it is likely OK to enjoy all the benefits therein!