One of Dr. Murad’s favourite sayings is “before there was medicine there was food.” This reflects the simple reality that before modern medical treatments people had to rely on eating healthily to be healthy!
However, you have to allow yourself to indulge in your favourite treats every now and then to preserve your love of food and of life! Dr. Murad recommends you stick by his 80/20 rule – eat healthily 80% of the time and indulge for the remaining 20%.
As Easter approaches chocolate is everywhere and you’d have to have an iron will not to indulge at least a little bit. The trick is not to feel bad about it! After all, what’s the point in treating yourself to something truly delicious if you feel racked with guilt afterwards?
To help you eat your 20% guilt-free, here are some health benefits of eating chocolate you may not know:
- Chocolate is good for the heart. The cocoa bean is rich in a class of plant nutrients called flavonoids. Flavonoids help protect plants from environmental toxins and help repair damage. They can be found in a variety of foods, such as colourful, fresh fruits and vegetables. When we eat foods rich in flavonoids, our bodies can benefit from this antioxidant power, much as plants do.
- Chocolate is full of antioxidants. The antioxidants found in chocolate (dark chocolate in particular) are believed to help the body’s cells resist damage caused by free radicals that are formed by normal bodily processes, such as breathing, and from environmental nasties like cigarette smoke and everyday stress. If your body does not have enough antioxidants to combat the amount of oxidation that occurs, it can become damaged by free radicals.
- Chocolate is good for the blood. Flavonols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. The darker the chocolate is, the higher levels of flavonols it has. In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research shows that flavonols have other potential influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.
So enjoy moderate portions of chocolate (30 grams or so) a few times per week, and don’t forget to eat other flavonoid-rich foods like apples, red wine, tea, onions and cranberries.