Just a reminder: the annual Chocolate Festival in Altus, OK is almost here! This is an annual benefit for the Altus Armed Services YMCA which serves the men and women of Altus Air Force Base.
The Chocolate Festival is being held on February 9th from 7-9pm at the Days Inn in Altus, OK (2804 N. Main Street). The event is for those 21 and older. The tickets are $25 per person or $40 per couple, and can be purchased here.
The event will have more types of chocolate than you can imagine, wine tasting, a cash bar and dancing!
But the annual chocolate festival got us thinking about that age old question that everyone goes back and forth on: what are the health benefits of chocolate?
Can chocolate be healthy?
The answer to this question is a mixed bag: yes and no.
First, we need to understand what in chocolate has health benefits: cacao. Note that cacao is not to be confused with chocolate as chocolate is a mixture of cacao, milk, sugar etc. while cacao is the natural ingredient. What is found in cacao to be beneficial to your health are anit-inflammatory flavanols and stimulating methylxanthines.
Methylxanthines include something we're all very familiar with. Drum roll please..... caffeine!
The caffeine and theobromine in chocolate has been shown to act as a stimulant (without inducing insomnia as some other stimulants such as coffee).
Overall, it is the flavanols in chocolate that have shown the most benefit. Because of their anti-inflammatory properties, they could have an effect on reducing risk of cancer and dementia.
Many have proclaimed the heart health benefits to chocolate as well, which may be true, but a true step to heart health begins with your overall diet (find out more on that here).
And don't forget to get your heart screened for American Heart Month! Currently there are discounted screenings happening in Jackson County Memorial Hospital in Altus, OK and Great Plains Regional Medical Center in Elk City, OK.
For info on heart screenings in Altus, read this article, and for heart screenings in Elk City, read this article.
What types of chocolate are healthy?
This is a very important questions. Basically, the more cacao that is present in the chocolate, the more health benefits there are. Here are the three types of chocolate ranked from best to worst:
Dark chocolate: The best source of flavanols, because it is low on milk and sugar and high in cacao.
Milk chocolate: This isn't the greatest source of health benefit. Because it is high in milk and sugar and heavily processed, milk chocolate doesn't provide too much of a health benefit.
White chocolate: This actually isn't chocolate at all! Therefore, it provides no health benefits.
Sorry white chocolate lovers! White chocolate isn't classified as chocolate. It is actually made from cocoa butter, sugar and milk -- not cocoa itself.
How much chocolate is healthy?
Ah, the important stuff! Since chocolate is healthy, we can indulge ourselves right?
Not exactly. Because of the stuff the make it with that makes it taste soooo good (i.e. milk and sugar!), doctors aren't exactly recommending you eat tons of it. Currently, they advise sticking to dark chocolate and just one to two pieces a day. So, no Snickers or Kit-Kats!
Want to see more of what's happening in Southwest Oklahoma? Check it out here!
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Sunshine Home Care provides home health in Altus, OK and most of Western Oklahoma. For more information on our agency, visit here or contact us today.
Sources: CNN, National Institute of Health.