Dark chocolate and I do mean dark (70% to 85% cocoa content) has multiple health benefits for you and your child. Who would have guessed that chocolate contains the following vitamins and minerals: manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, vitamin K, selenium, calcium, fiber, fat, protein and carbohydrates! All of this in one serving size (1 ounce).
Don’t go replacing veggies with dark chocolate. It should be eaten in moderation. Remember the higher the sugar content, the less benefits your child will receive. A Hershey’s bar isn’t going to cut it. When you delight in your chocolate; again make sure it is 70%-85% dark chocolate. Try to find one that is free of added emulsifiers and preservatives. I adore Green & Black’s Organic 85% chocolate bar. The entire bar has 12 grams of sugar but it takes me more than a week to get through it so my kids and I feel like we are getting a treat while keeping our sugars in check.
Now on to the good stuff. What dark chocolate does for your mood…it goes straight to work putting your brain in a happier place. According, to multiple scientific studies, dark chocolate has been proven to improve brain cognition, focus, memory and mood. Scientific wizards believe it is a result of the high anti-antioxidant count, rich polyphenol content and free-radical fighting superpowers.
Dr. Mercola mentions the following, “Norman Hollenberg, a professor of medicine at Harvard who has spent years studying the Kuna people of Panama (who consume up to 40 cups of cocoa a week), believes epicatechin is so important it should be considered a vitamin. The Kuna have less than a 10 percent risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes, which are the most prevalent diseases ravaging the Western world. Indeed, many studies have confirmed that cacao can benefit your heart, blood vessels, brain, nervous system, and helps combat diabetes and other conditions rooted in inflammation.”
I don’t know about you but the Kuna people have me, “Sold!” I don’t need anymore convincing. But in case you do, Diana Walcutt, Phd, of PsychCentral notes: “Some of dark chocolate’s benefits come from resveratrol, an antioxidant (immune system booster) found in red wine, among other products. Its mental health benefits include the ability to boost brain levels of endorphins (natural opiates) as well as serotonin (a mood-altering chemical on which many antidepressants act). Because it can increase serotonin levels in the brain, dark chocolate also may increase serotonin production in the gut, and thus help your immune system.
As always, remember not all foods work the same in everyone’s bodies. Bummer, you thought you were about to get a free pass. Sorry. Just be aware that dark chocolate can cause migraines, neck pain, kidney stones, skin sensitivity and gastric problems in some individuals. Also take note that dark chocolate does contain caffeine. Now that we have all the prickly stuff out of the way; I say, “Improve your kiddo’s brain health with an ounce of dark chocolate.”