Although I enjoy a glass of wine and the feeling of well-being that accompanies it, I have concluded that wine does not bring out the best in me! While studies showing the health benefits of moderate drinking have been something to cheer about, too much alcohol can be detrimental to your health - and too much means more than one glass a day for women and two a day for men.
Alcohol is often thought of as a mood enhancer and confidence booster, but it is actually a depressant - and creator of bad decisions! By contrast, snacking on a little dark chocolate has been shown to increase our serotonin levels, and that happy feeling is just the beginning of the good news about this tasty treat.
From Junk food to health food
Once blamed for causing acne and considered junk food, chocolate has taken on 'superfood' status. It is chock full of the same antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, that are essential for fighting the free radicals that can cause cancer and other debilitating illnesses. Studies show that chocolate can decrease the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, and may help with memory and brain function in older people.
And the acne myth? With the right kind of chocolate, your skin could be looking better than ever. The flavonols found in dark chocolate can protect your skin from sun damage, reduce wrinkles and age spots, and give you a glowing complexion!
The darker, the better
There is a caveat to all this welcome information about our beloved chocolate, and that is to pick the right kind. Liken this to choosing a great wine, and forgo the overly processed sugary chocolate that has been stripped of its nutrients. You may have to go to a health food store, or buy online, to find brands that meet the following criteria:
Don't forget that even the most wholesome chocolate is still a calorie dense food and shouldn't be eaten in abundance. The recommended amount is no more than 1-2 oz per day, so eat slowly and savor. Although some people find it too bitter to be eaten alone, raw cacao powder (or nibs) are naturally sugar-free and are the healthiest form of chocolate. Both are delicious in smoothies or try using raw cacao powder to make healthier hot chocolate. I love this simple three-ingredient chocolate recipe from My Whole Food Life.
I'm still going to enjoy a glass of wine from time to time, but my daily mood booster will be from a carefully chosen square (or two) of delicious, dark chocolate. Cheers!