I’ve been a registered dietitian for 25 years, and I have yet to meet an athlete who doesn’t struggle with cravings. Unmanaged, cravings can throw a carefully designed nutrition regimen out of whack. Cravings tend to come later in the day, without warning, just when you’ve let your guard down, and can derail an athlete’s daily nutritional balance. One athlete I know describes cravings as a “black hole that sucks me in and I lose complete control of all willpower as I tear through my pantry. It’s demoralizing.”
Life is too short not to indulge once in a while — especially in chocolate. But, don’t grab a 3 Musketeers candy bar thinking you are doing your body a favor. Not all chocolate is created equal. Dark chocolate packs the biggest health punch compared to milk and white chocolate.
The secret behind dark chocolate’s powerful punch is the cacao bean, rich in a plant-based organic compound called flavonoids. Flavanols, the primary type of flavonoid in cocoa and chocolate, have powerful antioxidant properties responsible for providing numerous health benefits. The downside is cacao (the cocoa bean) by itself is unappetizing with its chalky and bitter flavor. Once milk, butter and sugar are added chocolate gets its yummy, creamy taste we have come to crave. However, the processing of chocolate takes out the flavanols negating the health benefit of cacao. [Read more…]