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Health eTips is produced by the staff of the St. Charles County Department of Public Health. The department consists of three divisions - Environmental Health and Protection, Health Services and Humane Services - that provide a wide range of services focused on enhancing the well-being of this community.

If you have questions about the Department of Public Health or have suggestions on public health topics you'd like to see explored in this blog, please email us.

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Feb 14

Sweet Truth About Chocolate

Posted on February 14, 2017 at 9:48 AM by Doug Bolnick


dark chocolateValentines across the globe will receive sweet, chocolaty treats from their loves this month. Instead of feeling guilty for indulging, it’s better to celebrate the outstanding health benefits!

The cocoa bean, from which all chocolate is made, is full of a plant nutrient called flavonoids. Flavonoids act as an antioxidant in our bodies and help to remove toxins, repair cell damage and protect against aging. Flavonoids help to lower blood pressure, balance hormones, reduce the blood’s ability to clot and decreases LDL (bad) cholesterol levels by up to 10 percent. Flavonoids also improve blood flow and reduce stroke and heart disease risks. Dark chocolate contains about eight times the amount of antioxidants found in strawberries.

Eating chocolate also helps our mood. Chocolate candy tastes good, and that stimulates endorphin production to improve your outlook. In addition, dark chocolate contains serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates happiness in the brain. Serotonin levels are often decreased in people with depression and in those experiencing PMS. Cocoa also contains a small bit of caffeine and other stimulants that help
improve short-term brain function.

While there are benefits from eating a chocolate treat, you should not indulge in pounds of sugary candy every day. Studies show these health and emotional benefits may be attained by eating 3.5 ounces, or about half a chocolate bar, a few times a week. Additionally, the best choices are dark chocolate with a 70 percent or higher cocoa content and minimal processing.

chocolate heart shape

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