Your Body

Chocolate Is Good For You!

(via lemonandlyme.com)

Oh, chocolate, how do we love thee? Let us count the ways. Chocolate helps us quell our PMS-induced cravings and nurse our wounds after heart-wrenching breakups—not to mention that it just tastes so good. To our delight, recent studies have the media singing the praises of this decadent dessert that’s previously had a bad rap, health-wise. We know you’ve seen those news flashes on the internet proclaiming, “Chocolate is good for you!” But to score chocolate’s true health benefits, you have to know which kinds to choose.

Chocolate 101

Chocolate is made from cocoa, also known as cacao, grown on trees in the tropical forests of South America in the form of a bean. Cocoa contains high levels of flavonoids, which are “the natural chemical substances in chocolate that have favorable health properties,” says Jackie Keller, an L.A.-based health and nutrition expert.

Why should you care about flavonoids? They can improve blood vessel function, which keeps your blood pumping freely throughout your body, and they can also reduce blood clots—those nasty little things that can cause heart attacks and strokes later in life. Flavonoids also clean up free radicals, which are absolutely-no-good molecules that can cause cell damage, cancer and aging, says MariAnn Rhodes, MS, RD, LDN, a Chicago area–based nutritionist. That doesn’t mean that gorging yourself on chocolate will automatically erase your wrinkles when you’re older, but a flavonoid-rich diet is thought to lessen the signs of aging.

Choosing Chocolate

If all this chocolate-is-good-for-you news is making you want to rush to the nearest vending machine or bakery—STOP! Sadly, all chocolate is not created equal. “The addition of milk dilutes the concentration of cocoa solids and lessens flavonoids,” says Massachusetts-based nutritionist Laura Zohman. This means you’ll receive the most health benefits from a solid chocolate—not chocolate cake, pudding or cookies—that also has a high cocoa content. Here’s a breakdown of cocoa content for the three types of commercially-made chocolate out there:

  • White chocolate: contains no cocoa bean solids
  • Milk chocolate: contains 7 to 50 percent cocoa
  • Dark chocolate: contains 50 to 85 percent cocoa

Because these categories vary widely, Zohman recommends looking for a dark chocolate with 70 percent or greater cocoa content noted on the label. Brands to look for include Scharffen Berger, Dagoba, Santander, Godiva, Amadei, Endangered Species, NEWTREE Chocolates and Cacao Reserve by Hershey’s. This higher cocoa content means a lower sugar and fat content, which gives dark chocolate a stronger, more bitter taste in comparison to lighter milk chocolate. In addition, check the ingredients label when shopping for chocolate. “Choose…chocolates containing real cocoa butter, not hydrogenated oils and milk fats, which are unhealthy,” says Zohman. “Look for real vanilla and other natural ingredients, rather than artificial additives.”

Words of Wisdom

Unfortunately, “the more the better” rule of thumb doesn’t apply to dark chocolate. Sticking to a healthy serving size is essential, as even the darkest chocolate also contains sugar, saturated fat and about 150 calories per ounce (that’s usually one or two squares, depending on the bar). Nutritionists recommend dark chocolate as a smart substitute for other treats, like brownies or cookies, but you still need to maintain a balanced diet of fruits, veggies and whole grains—all of which offer their own doses of beneficial antioxidants and vitamins. “A one-ounce serving daily can be a delicious way to obtain the health benefits and a bite of pure enjoyment, too,” Keller explains.

Keep in mind that chocolate isn’t for everyone. “We are all biochemically different,” Zohman says, “and do not tolerate foods in the same way.” She explains that chocolate contains theobromine, a caffeine-like chemical which can cause headaches or insomnia for some people, while Rhodes adds that chocolate can also aggravate acid reflux for others. In these cases, it’s best to steer clear of chocolate altogether.

Win It
Photos by Erin Baiano

It's time to get your pirouette on! From September 5th to September 30th, we're hosting a contest to find out who's the best turner of them all.

Put together your most impressive turning combo. Post a video online. Share your turns with us and thousands of other dancers around the world. And if our editors think you're the top turner, you'll win a fabulous prize.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer

All of 18-year-old Kaylin Maggard's dreams—from scoring the title of National Senior Outstanding Dancer at New York City Dance Alliance Nationals to winning the 2017 Dance Spirit Cover Model Search—are coming true. And to anyone who knows the gorgeous contemporary dancer, that's no surprise.

From the moment the Dance Spirit staff met Kaylin, it was obvious her humility and talent would take her far. Not only did she go full-out during the photo shoot and class at Broadway Dance Center, but she was always cheering on, laughing with, and supporting her fellow CMS contestants Haley Hartsfield and Michelle Quiner. During the voting period, the social media world was abuzz with praise for her work ethic, positive attitude, and generosity.

Since her CMS trip to NYC, Kaylin's moved from her hometown of Columbia, MO, to the Big Apple for her freshman year at Juilliard, and is busy getting acquainted with the city. As for the future? She's taking it one opportunity at a time, but something tells us we'll be seeing this contemporary queen reach new heights every year.

Keep reading... Show less
Trending-posts

Competition season is here, and you've finally received your beautiful new costumes. But how can you keep these ensembles looking stage-ready through Nationals next July? Here are the tips and tricks you need to prevent and troubleshoot costume problems.

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer

New York City principal Lauren Lovette has become an icon thanks to her emotional maturity and exceptional musicality. The 26-year-old quickly rose through the ranks after joining the company as an apprentice in 2009, reaching principal status in 2015. A Thousand Oaks, CA, native, Lovette started studying ballet seriously at age 11, at the Cary Ballet Conservatory in Cary, NC. After attending two summer courses at the School of American Ballet, she enrolled as a full-time student in 2006. Last year, she made her choreographic debut with For Clara, her first piece for NYCB. Catch her latest work this month during the company's fall season. —Courtney Bowers

Keep reading... Show less
Dancer to Dancer

In our "Dear Katie" series, former NYCB soloist Kathryn Morgan answers your pressing dance questions. Have something you want to ask Katie? Email dearkatie@dancespirit.com for a chance to be featured!

Dear Katie,

I know I'm not getting good enough dance training from any of my local studios. But I'm not sure I'm ready to move away to study at a big-name school, either. How do you know when you're ready to leave home to pursue your passion?

Marisa

Keep reading... Show less
Your Body

Instagram star Kylie Shea has built a following of nearly 170,000 with her playful workout videos, which combine traditional fitness activities, like jumping rope or running on the treadmill, with pointe shoes and sassy choreography. Shea's effortless cool-girl-next-door vibe and solid ballet technique make her vids totally irresistible.

Now Shea's using her platform to address the body image issues that tend to plague dancers. In a poignant video, she sheds her clothes and tugs at her skin. The caption explains her relationship with her body and the pressure she feels to maintain a certain aesthetic as a dancer.

Keep reading... Show less
Your Body

Physical discomfort is inevitable when you're spending tons of hours in the studio every day, but some pain shouldn't be suffered through. "Dancing through pain can make an injury worse and lead to more time away from dance," says Dr. Joel Brenner, medical director of dance medicine at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk, VA. "Failing to rest and recover when you're in serious pain could even lead to the point where you're unable to dance in the future."

That may sound scary, but there's good news: If you take precautions and listen to your body, many injuries can be stopped in their tracks. The first step? Knowing what's normal—and what's not.

Keep reading... Show less
Popular
(From left) Beatriz Stix-Brunell and Yasmin Nagdhi in a still from "Duet"

Think about it: How often do you see a ballet pas de deux for two women? Almost never, right? Sometimes, choreographers will forgo the traditional danseur-ballerina pas to make a duet for two guys, since they can lift and partner each other easily. But a dance for two ballerinas is a rare thing.

That's part of what makes "Duet," a new video by director Andrew Margetson featuring Royal Ballet beauties Yasmin Naghdi and Beatriz Stix-Brunell, so compelling.

Keep reading... Show less

Sponsored

Want to Be on Our Cover?

covermodelsearch-image

Video

Sponsored

mailbox

Get Dance Spirit in your inbox

Sponsored