How Much Chocolate Can You Fit Into a Healthy Diet?

By GalTime Associate Producer Kendall Bitonte

Along with diamonds, most girls would agree that chocolate can really be a gal's best friend. But don't go splurging on this yummy candy for a good heart-to-heart ... According to Elisa Zied, registered dietitian and author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips, chocolate's benefits must be enjoyed in moderation to keep it "healthy." Here are some of her tips and guidelines on how to keep chocolate a sweet delight in your diet.

Related: Get Real About Your Goal Weight

1. An Ounce to Help Your Heart

"According to the most recent Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, there's moderate evidence that eating modest amounts of dark chocolate or cocoa may be beneficial to your heart by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease," Zied said. The key, however, is the word modest. Overindulging in any food is not healthy but since chocolate is a bit high in calories and fat, having more than deemed appropriate by dietary guidelines can cancel out many of its benefits.

"An ounce to an ounce and a half is usually the amount believed to confer health benefits; this is far less than the amount you'll find in a typical candy bar. Chocolate also contains lots of fat and added sugar, so if you choose it, you'll have to curb intake of other foods rich in solid fats and added sugars so that you keep your calorie intake in check," Zied recommends.

Related: Do You Really Need to Build Your Core Strength?

2. Choose Dark Chocolate

But what is it about chocolate that makes it good for us? Zied specifically points out thatchocolate is abundant in stearic acid, a saturated fat that does not raise your blood cholesterol levels.

But beyond just recognizing chocolate in general, Zied specifies the powers of dark chocolate gets its good reputation from being rich in flavonoids.

According to research presented by the Livestrong Foundation, flavonoids are compounds that have strong anti-oxidant activity that may help with cardiovascular health as well as chronic conditions like osteoporosis and diabetes.

"Dark chocolate has more flavonoids than other types of chocolate, which is why it's typically touted as health food. But not all dark chocolate is equal when it comes to flavonoid content. A good rule of thumb is to look for at least 70 percent cocoa solids when you buy dark chocolate--that indicates it contains a good amount of flavonoids in the chocolate," she said.

Related: Finally, a Fix For Stubborn Fat

3. Mix Chocolate with a Healthy Diet

So there you go-chocolate may help your heart, and dark chocolate can be an especially good source of antioxidants. However, Zied cautions, "Before you turn to dark chocolate for its potential heart-health benefits, be sure to keep in mind that chocolate candy is calorie dense--it contains lots of calories in a relatively small portion. If you like the taste of dark chocolate, consuming small amounts--in the context of a heart-healthy diet rich in produce, whole grains, lean protein sources, low fat dairy foods, and healthy fats--can help you satisfy your craving for sweets while minimizing dietary damage."


More from GalTime.com

Follow Us:
GalTime on Facebook