Chocolate's metamorphosis from dietary devil to angel food is nearly complete, thanks to powerful antioxidants called flavonols.
Recently, Italian researchers determined that eating dark chocolate could lessen your risk of developing diabetes. In the study of 15 people, everyone who ate one candy bar's worth of dark chocolate once a day for 15 days saw his or her levels of a marker for insulin resistance drop by nearly half.
"Flavonols increase nitric oxide production," says lead researcher Claudio Ferri, M.D., "and that helps control insulin sensitivity."
Choose a chocolate that's high in flavonol-rich cocoa, like Scharffen Berger's Nibby Bars (scharffenberger.com), which are spiked with crunchy cacao-bean bits.
Give her Chocolate, get more sex
Sex is like a box of chocolates: Even the disappointments are pretty good. A new Italian study of 163 women shows that those who regularly eat chocolate report enhanced sex drive and sexual satisfaction. The research left open the possibility that those who enjoy chocolate are just more sensual in general.
Lessen the guilt
Yes, candy bars are packed with fat and sugar. But there are antioxidants in chocolate and protein in nuts. And the bars are so darn convenient (and close to the checkout counter) that it's sometimes impossible to resist. If you're going to cave, do the least amount of harm.
This guide will help you:
ROUND ONE: Saturated fat. It's unavoidable, but you can keep it to a minimum.
Mr. Goodbar: 7 grams (g) saturated fat v. Snickers: 5 g saturated fat
Payday: 2 g saturated fat v. Butterfinger: 6 g saturated fat
Nutrageous: 5 g saturated fat v. Mounds: 10 g saturated fat
Milky Way: 7 g saturated fat v. Baby Ruth: 8 g saturated fat
ROUND TWO: Protein. Candy bars can provide quality nutrients, like muscle-building protein. Best bet: bars with nuts.
Snickers: 4 g protein v. Payday: 6 g protein
Nutrageous: 6 g protein v. Milky Way: 2 g protein
ROUND THREE: Overall nutrition. The bar to beat is lower in calories and sugar and higher in fiber, and has a better balance of healthy unsaturated fats.
Payday: 260 calories, 12 g unsaturated fat, 2 g fiber, 21 g sugar v. Nutrageous: 280 calories, 11.5 g unsaturated fat, 2 g fiber, 20 g sugar
AND THE WINNER IS . . . Payday
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