Fitness gurus are falling in love with dark chocolate, and so should you

dark-chocolate1 We love, love, love this piece of sweet advice from Shefit nutrition and food partner Susie R. of Real Food, Real Fitness! And, be sure to scroll for a simple way to shake up your shake! A timeless couple, Valentine’s Day and chocolate go hand in hand. As it turns out, you can reward your body by eating chocolate all year long, not just on February 14. Of course, how good a reward greatly depends on the type of chocolate you choose to consume. You already know that milk chocolate bars and candied treats aren’t really best for staying in shape, and by now have heard that dark chocolate is “the way to go.” But why? What’s so special about dark chocolate, anyway? And, are there real health and fitness benefits to it?

Unwrapping one of nature’s more savory gifts of health

As it turns out, yes! Luscious, pure, delicious dark chocolate, made from raw cacao derived from cacao plant beans and without any additives, is one treat you can indulge (though not overindulge) as part of a normal diet. Above all other forms of chocolate, dark chocolate is a rich source of phytonutrients, and is full of healthy fats, minerals, and antioxidants, even dietary fiber! Plus, the flavanols in dark chocolate may decrease blood pressure by helping arteries to relax. What’s more, dark chocolate contains stimulant substances such as caffeine, which is beneficial in keeping your brain alert and sharp. It is also known to be one of the highest dietary sources of magnesium, an important mineral for optimal nutrition. Many athletes love dark chocolate, and for this reason, consume it in moderate quantities all year round. And yes, dark chocolate is a real food treat, you don’t have to feel guilty about it as long as you don’t overeat it. TIP: Look for organic dark chocolate bar with 70% or higher cocoa content, and savor sparingly when you need a little something sweet!

Stay fit and frisky: Power up with cacao powder

To truly grasp all the full nutritional benefits dark chocolate has to offer without all the excess calories and fat, try raw cacao powder. Add two tablespoons to your daily smoothie or protein drink as a superfood vitamin and mineral supplement!