Healthy Choice Voice: A Healthy Halloween

Healthy Halloween

(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

by Katrina Avila

The holiday season is often thought of as beginning at Thanksgiving and ending at New Years; however, we often begin engorging ourselves long before the turkey hits the table. While we are a little too old at this point to go trick-or-treating, we still manage to get our hands on pillowcases full of candy around Halloween. Come on, we’re all guilty of buying a huge variety bag of candy at Walmart every once in a while.

So how do we avoid the sugar highs (and crashes) while still getting our chocolate fix this Halloween? Dark chocolate, when eaten in moderation, is an excellent alternative to the highly processed candy that major candy companies feed to the masses. Dark chocolate has a slew of health benefits, and while it might be a little bitter at first, it does grow on you.

According to authoritynutrition.com, “a 100 gram bar of dark chocolate with 70-85% cocoa contains: 11 grams of fiber, 67% of the recommended daily allowances (RDA) for iron, 58% of the RDA for magnesium, 89% of the RDA for copper, 98% of the RDA for manganese, and plenty of potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.” 100 grams of dark chocolate equates to about 3.5 ounces and is a lot of chocolate to consume in one day. Not to mention, that equates to about 600 calories and a lot of sugar—48 grams to be exact. The key to getting all of these vitamins and minerals into your body without the abundance of calories is moderation.

Dark chocolate also contains many antioxidants. What are antioxidants? We hear all about them—they are abundant in blueberries, pomegranates, and, for those that are 21 years-old, red wine—but rarely do we ever hear what they actually do.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “antioxidants…help the body’s cells resist damage caused by free radicals that are formed by normal bodily processes, such as breathing, and from environmental contaminants, such as environmental smoke.” If your body does not contain a sufficient amount of antioxidants to fight off the oxidation that naturally occurs, “it can become damaged by free radicals.” For example, the Mayo Clinic states that increased levels of oxidation can cause “low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is also known as ‘bad’ cholesterol to form plaque on artery walls.”

Dark chocolate has many more benefits than just satisfying a sweet tooth. To gain the benefits that it has to offer, the Cleveland Clinic recommends eating 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate as a replacement for your regular sweet treat. This serving comes with 220 calories, 12 grams of sugar, five milligrams of sodium, and five grams of fiber. It may sound like a lot, but it’s better than eating a piece of chocolate cake.

This Halloween, we can have our chocolate and eat it too.