PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The creator of the “Peanuts” comic strip Charles Schultz once said, “all you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
In fact, he was on to something.READ MORE: Allegheny County Health Director Says Delta Variant Is Fueling Rising Cases, Hospitalizations
There are definite health benefits to chocolate.
Chocolate is good for you even daily, according to registered dietician Julia Zumpano of the Cleveland Clinic.
“If you enjoy it, include a small piece every day and savor it,” she said.
Chocolate is a fountain of antioxidants.
“Specifically flavonoids have been very helpful with lowering LDL, lowering blood pressure and increasing HDL,” Zumpano added.
It can help with your cholesterol, but Zumpano says it doesn’t stop there.
“There are mood-boosting properties in chocolate. So, it can boost your happy feelings and your dopamine, and your endorphins and those receptors that make you feel happy and less anxious and satisfied,” she said.
But only a small piece is recommended.
“So generally an ounce is what is suggested.”
To put that in perspective a normal Hershey’s chocolate bar is just over one and a half ounces.
So you can have roughly two-thirds of a bar. Good luck resisting the other third.READ MORE: 'Itchy Mites:' Preventing Bites And The Itch That Comes With A Mite Bite
But wait: there’s more to this to get the most health benefit – not just any chocolate will do.
Registered dietician Julia Zumpano of the Cleveland Clinic says you have to be reasonable.
Chocolate can add up quickly with calories, so she says stick to about an ounce.
“An ounce is about 30 grams, based on the chocolate bar, it can be one large piece or three smaller pieces based on how the bar is set up or the chocolate is being served,” Zumpano said.
And not all chocolate is created equal.
“So the darker the better.”
Remember you’re after the antioxidants which improve your mood and cholesterol
“All of those properties that we’ve discussed really happen in the cocoa. So the higher cocoa content, the more you’re going to get those properties. And the bonus to that is, the higher the cocoa, generally the lower in sugar,” she said.
Zumpano says look for 70% cocoa or higher–the higher the cocoa the less sugar.
“You really want to steer clear of white chocolate because there’s absolutely no benefit. With milk chocolates, again, there’s not much benefit there or chocolate bars where there’s very little just kind of coating of chocolate and a lot of other ingredients inside whether it’s nugget or Carmel, whatever it may be filled with.”
And this final point:
“Savor it. Take the time to eat it slowly savor the feelings and the taste you have in your mouth and enjoy it.”MORE NEWS: Pittsburgh Weather: Temperatures Continue Rising On Thursday
Again it’s all about the cocoa content, the higher the better, and resisting the urge to eat the whole thing.