Dear Living Well Daily Reader,
Spider-shaped doughnuts, mummy-shaped cookies and vampire-themed cupcakes…
These are just a sampling of the confectionary frights that surface during the Halloween season.
And while finding yourself in midst of ghost-shaped marshmallows and candy corn may seem like the least scary part of the holiday, the truth is these sugary treats could be your worst nightmare.
You see, sugar is the ghoul behind many health problems like heart disease, obesity, diabetes and memory issues. Indulging in these festive treats may bring you one step closer to one of these deadly conditions.
But that doesn’t mean you have to skip on the candy this season…
There is one decadent treat that not only satisfies your sweet tooth, but also boosts your heart and brain health while also providing you with vital nutrients and antioxidants.
The Darker the Better
The candy is dark chocolate.
And it’s so nutritionally superior to its high-fructose syrup-filled counterparts, it really shouldn’t be called candy at all.
Dark chocolate is full of vitamins and minerals. In fact, a tiny 1-ounce serving of 70–85% cocoa dark chocolate contains the following percentages of your recommended daily intake of several minerals:
But the healthy compounds in dark chocolate aren’t limited to minerals.
Dark chocolate is also rich in heart-protecting antioxidants like polyphenols and flavanols. These compounds may help improve blood pressure and fight against the development of calcified plaque in your arteries.
One study showed that folks who ate dark chocolate two or more times a week decreased their risk of calcified plaque building up in their arteries by an amazing 32 percent! And the good heart news doesn’t stop there…
Another study showed that eating chocolate five or more times a week can lower your risk of heart disease by a whopping 57 percent! Plus, dark chocolate can reduce insulin resistance, which is a risk factor for both heart disease and diabetes.
This means eating dark chocolate two–five times a week could significantly improve your heart health, which in turn would also boost your overall health.
In addition to having heart health powers, dark chocolate also helps your brain. Studies have shown that dark chocolate can increase blood flow to the brain as well as improve the cognitive function in elderly people suffering from mental impairment.
And while dark chocolate has tons of health benefits, it can come loaded with sugar if you get the wrong type. Be sure to choose organic, extra-dark chocolate with a cocoa content of at least 70%, and keep in mind that the higher the cocoa content, the higher the health content.
If you want a real treat, try a dark chocolate bar that contains cacao nibs.
Cacao nibs are the cacao beans that have been roasted but not processed. They add a nice crunch and a hint of fruity flavor to a dark chocolate bar, and since they are unprocessed, these little beans are packed with antioxidants. This means eating dark chocolate with nibs is a tasty way to double down on your antioxidant intake.
Whether you go with nibs or not is up to you. Just make sure the only candy in your trick-or-treat bag is organic dark chocolate.
Managing editor, Living Well Daily