Chocolate Health: Working Chocolate into a Healthy Lifestyle.

Your chocolate health levels might indicate a longer life and lower cancer risks!

We all wish chocolate health food would become the new rage, but unfortunately that doesn't seem likely to happen -- or does it? Remember, chocolate comes from plants. Doesn't that tip it into the fruits and vegetables category?

Well, not quite. But as it turns out, chocolate can be a healthy alternative to other snacks. Chocolate contains high amounts of antioxidants (approximately eight times the amount found in strawberries) and flavonoids, which can help reduce blood pressure.

There are, of course, a few caveats to maintaining chocolate health. You can't just wolf down a few Kit Kats and call it health food (if only!). If you're into maintaining your health through chocolate, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Stick to dark chocolate

Unfortunately, those yummy milk-chocolate caramels just aren't going to cut it. Dark chocolate isn't just lower in sugar and fat content, the fat it contains is actually beneficial (or at least, some of it is). There's still some bad fat in dark chocolate, but most of it is either neutral or the healthy type found in olive oil.

2. Limit yourself

You shouldn't eat much more than 100 grams of chocolate a day (about three and a half ounces). Still, the good news is that you can eat chocolate every day! Just keep the amount in moderation and you can satisfy that chocolate craving. Who knew? It seems there's chocolate health food after all!

3. Don't wash it down with milk

Sure, you need your calcium intake, and a nice glass of milk with your dark chocolate might seem like the perfect solution. But studies show that milk can prevent the absorption of antioxidants, limiting your chocolate health benefits.

4. Don't forget cocoa!

Did you know that cocoa has twice the antioxidants of a glass of red wine and nearly three times the amount found in a cup of tea? Sure, it has milk, but with antioxidants that high, it doesn't matter. Better still, you can enjoy cocoa guilt-free! Make it with a sugar substitute and low-fat milk, and you have the perfect treat.

It's good news for chocolate lovers: science has discovered what we've known all along! If you're looking for chocolate health food, you don't have to look much further than chocolate itself.

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