Give Your Valentine Dark Chocolate This Year and Brighten Their Smile

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If your valentine adores chocolate, make it dark chocolate this year and you’ll not only bring a smile to your loved one’s face, but you’ll be helping them with their oral health. Really? Yes, dark chocolate can help prevent tooth decay.

It’s not the chocolate that is good for your teeth – it’s the cocoa bean that holds the key to dark chocolate’s tooth-helpful properties. Cocoa beans contain a set of strong antioxidants that benefit your mouth and teeth - polyphenols, tannins, and flavonoids. Tannins are what gives dark chocolate its slightly bitter taste and its dark color. They also help prevent cavities by preventing bacteria from sticking to your teeth. Meanwhile, polyphenols are bacteria-fighters, working to eliminate bad breath, stop gum infections, and fight tooth decay. The final antioxidant in this trio is the flavonoid, which slows down tooth decay.

A bonus of dark chocolate is that because the antioxidants it contains fight gum disease, it can help fight heart disease. That’s because the bacteria associated with gum disease – also called periodontal disease - can also enter the bloodstream and cause heart disease and other cardiovascular problems.

There are three kinds of chocolate – milk chocolate, white chocolate and dark chocolate. The one closest to its original form is dark chocolate, because it has been processed less than the other two and thus has lost less of its tooth-friendly properties. Look for dark chocolate that is 70 percent cocoa. You won’t have a problem finding the cocoa percentage on dark chocolate – manufacturers make sure it is very obvious on the packaging. Here are some of the top dark chocolate bars available:

  • Lindt's Excellence Supreme Dark, 90 percent cocoa
  • Ghirardelli's Intense Dark Midnight Reverie, 86 percent cocoa
  • Ghirardelli's Intense Dark Twilight Delight, 72 percent cocoa
  • Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate, 60 percent cocoa

Another benefit of dark chocolate is that it contains less sugar than other varieties, so it's slightly better for your waistline, too.

But remember, dark chocolate is not a substitute for a regular diet of vegetables and fruit. While it’s antioxidant properties are definitely a plus, it’s not what you would call a “healthy food” if over consumed. There is still some sugar and an ample amount of fat in dark chocolate, and both of those can present health issues. A healthy intake would be 1 ounce of dark chocolate daily, or about the size of six Hershey’s kisses (which come in a dark variety). That will add about 150 calories to your daily intake.

So when you’re shopping for your valentine this year, skip the milk chocolate or white chocolate and head right for the dark chocolate. You’re certain to bring a smile to their face and a boost to their oral health.

Source: TLC

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