chocolate crumbs

Cacao. Cocoa. Cocoa bean. It has many names, but they all refer to one thing: chocolate! Although it’s been used and celebrated for centuries, recent studies show there may be more to chocolate than its delicious taste. For all you chocolate-lovers out there, we have some good news! Eating 2-3 oz of 70 percent dark chocolate per week can provide some health benefits.

Cocoa beans, used in the production of chocolate bars, are chock full of plant nutrients called flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties. These antioxidants help fight “bad cholesterol” and cell damage from free radicals. The key is moderation, and the benefits only apply to dark chocolate. So, this isn’t an excuse to overindulge on your favorite candy bar.

Although both dark chocolate and milk chocolate bars contain cocoa, dark chocolate contains a higher concentration. Many milk chocolate bars contain less cocoa and a higher amount of dairy products and sugars, making them a less nutritious option than their dark chocolate cousins.

Cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate, has many physical and mental health benefits.

Ways Chocolate Can Give You an Extra Boost

  • Cacao may improve heart health (reduce blood pressure and reduce risk of heart disease)
  • May increase blood flow to the brain
  • Stimulates endorphin production, which improves your mood
  • May protect skin from UV damage
  • May prevent stroke
  • May lower cholesterol levels
  • Good source of antioxidants
  • Linked to a de-stressing effect
  • Packed wit­h nutrients like iron, magnesium, copper, manganese
  • Mostly healthy fats (saturated and monounsaturated)

So, the next time you reach for dessert, remember that a little bit of dark chocolate can help satisfy your sweet tooth and give you a health boost, too.

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A $21 billion health care provider and insurer, Pittsburgh-based UPMC is inventing new models of patient-centered, cost-effective, accountable care. The largest nongovernmental employer in Pennsylvania, UPMC integrates more than 90,000 employees, 40 hospitals, 700 doctors’ offices and outpatient sites, and a 3.8 million-member Insurance Services Division, the largest medical insurer in western Pennsylvania. In the most recent fiscal year, UPMC contributed $1.4 billion in benefits to its communities, including more care to the region’s most vulnerable citizens than any other health care institution, and paid more than $500 million in federal, state, and local taxes. Working in close collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences, UPMC shares its clinical, managerial, and technological skills worldwide through its innovation and commercialization arm, UPMC Enterprises, and through UPMC International. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside on its annual Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. For more information, go to UPMC.com.