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Friday’s Flavor: The truth about chocolate

You know that box of Valentine’s Day chocolates that are still sitting in your desk drawer because you are trying to eat healthy?
Well, good news, eating chocolate can be good for you.
Now of course, not all chocolate is good for you, but with a little help, you will be on the right path to satisfy your chocolate craving without ruining your diet.
There are generally 3 main types of chocolate that are consumed.  These chocolates include white chocolate, milk chocolate and dark chocolate. 
White chocolate is the main one to avoid out of the three because technically it is not considered chocolate.
When chocolate liquor is pressed, the fat can be removed and that is called cocoa butter which is the primary ingredient of white chocolate.
Along with this cocoa butter fat, white chocolate contains milk, sugar and other ingredients to flavor it. Overall, white chocolate is a very fattening treat that contains no actual cocoa solids with minimal nutritive value.
Milk chocolate is not your best choice either.
Milk chocolate is a sweet chocolate that contains milk powder or condensed milk. Unlike white chocolate, milk chocolate does contain some cocoa solids, just not as many as dark chocolate.
Milk chocolate has the same nutritive properties as white chocolate for the most part since manufacturers add so much sugar and milk to flavor it.
Therefore, milk chocolate is still not a great option. 
Last, but not least, dark chocolate falls in at the number one ranking for chocolate.
Dark chocolate, with its high cocoa content, is a rich source of flavonoids and epicatechin.
Epicatechin is an active member of a group of compounds called plant flavonoids.
Flavonoids are antioxidants that keep cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels, reduce the risk of blood clots, and slow down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries.
Therefore, flavonoids help control blood pressure and protect the heart when consumed in small amounts.
Dark chocolate’s theobromine and phenethylamine can also affect serotonin levels in the brain to uplift your mood and induce a feeling of well being.
However, that is still no reason to go overboard. 
Although dark chocolate is good for you, remember to balance the calories and use moderation.
A king sized 100-gram serving of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar has 531 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Therefore, watch how much chocolate you are consuming.
If you eat too much chocolate, you can cancel out the antioxidant benefits because you are taking in too many calories, fat and saturated fat. 
There are also other healthier options to feed your chocolate craving rather than just eating a regular milk chocolate candy bar.
To start, you can eat dark chocolate in moderation.
There are also many healthier options in the freezer section such as Skinny Cow ice cream fudge bars and ice cream sandwiches.
These run at about 100 calories and are a decent portion of ice cream, not to mention delicious. 
Jenelle Mikula is a junior deitetics major. Friday’s Flavor is edited for accuracy by Jeanette Davidson, a registered dietician and director of the dietetics program.
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