Chocolate and peanut butter are commonly perceived as foods that are "bad for you." Sure, processed versions of these foods can be manufactured into unhealthy products, but these foods are not the bad guys they're often made out to be. The Benefits of Chocolate While there's nothing healthy about snacking on a bag of M&M's, real dark chocolate is actually packed with antioxidants, originating from it's purest form as a cacao bean. Cacao is ground, roasted, and made into cocoa. Without the additives of butter, sugar, and hydrogenated oils, chocolate can actually be good for you. Cacao's antioxidants prevent free radicals and reduce inflammation. Cocoa is also high in flavonoids. A research team at Harvard found that flavonoids help lower cholesterol and reduce the danger of blood clots, blood pressure, and heart disease. Flavanol also may help fight memory loss. Pass the Peanut butter The key to any nut product is to enjoy it in moderation, and in its purest form. While spreading massive amounts of peanut butter onto everything you eat certainy won't aid in weight loss, the benefits of a moderate amount of high-quality peanut butter are actually encouraging. Peanut butter is packed with nutritional bonuses, including fiber, protein, and monounsaturated fat. What makes peanut butter unhealthy are the added sugars, oils, fats, and preservatives that are often added to mass-produced brands. Peanut butter also has the vitamins and minerals that pure peanuts pack, which includes vitamin E, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6, niacin, folate, choline, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. To make sure you choose the healthiest peanut butter, consider these factors: 1. Buy peanut butter that is made through a cold-press process, as it preserves its nutritional value. 2. Compare nutrition labels between two types of peanut butter, and go with the kind that has the shorter list of added ingredients. 3. Don't ignore the amount of sugar. As a general rule of thumb, the ratio of sugar: protein should be minimal: substantial. For example, sugar 2g: protein 6g.
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