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Can chocolate be a health food?

Fitness Answer Man

Fitness Answer Man

February 09, 2009|By CHAD SMITH

Valentine's Day is one of the holidays where sales of chocolate soar for confectioners nationwide.

Men buy it in its numerous forms to give to their special ladies in hopes of winning or keeping their hearts (or just to keep the peace).

Sure it makes a tasty gift, but did you know chocolate can actually be a healthy treat?

Chocolate is made from the cocoa plant that has a high concentration of antioxidants, which help remove all the little nasties from your body. In fact, according to the Chocolate Manufacturers Association, dark chocolate has close to eight times the polyphenol antioxidants found in strawberries.

Chocolate also has been shown to increase our feel-good hormones called endorphins, which results in a positive boost and stress reduction.

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According to some research, chocolate has a special effect on women. Eating chocolate seems to stimulate the release of the same hormones that are released when women feel in love.

Now this isn't license to go crush a box of Godiva, and at $40 a pop, you'd better not. Despite the known health benefits of chocolate, it still can be a high-sugar, high-fat food.

If you are going to chomp on some chocolate, make it the dark variety as it is lower in sugar and fat, and has the highest amounts of antioxidants per serving of any chocolate. It's not as sweet as milk chocolate, but in my opinion, it's the best choice.

With the demonstrated health benefits of chocolate, you don't have to cringe when that heart-shaped box (or boxes if you're popular) is staring at you on Valentine's Day weekend.

As always, moderation is the word of the day.

If you want to get your paws on some healthier chocolate recipes, log on to my Web site, www.hometeamfitness.net

Chad Smith is a local fitness expert and co-owner of Home Team Fitness, LLC. Visit his Web site, www.hometeamfitness.net.

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