Dark chocolate on Valentine's Day: a tooth-friendly treat
SUMMARY: With the heart-throb holiday just days away, there's still time to give the healthy, timeless gift of dark chocolate.
Posted: February 11, 2014
Lover, significant other, roommate - whatever you call your Valentine, there's only one thing he or she deserves on Feb. 14: a tasty, smile-friendly present. After all, the last gift you want to give is some sugary sweet that fires off bad breath. With only a few days left until the heart-throb holiday, don't over?think things - you don't have to look far to find a treat that combines the proper dose of healthy and sweet.
Many couples are crazy about dark chocolate, and with its array of health benefits, even doctors and dentists have been known to sign off. The bottom line is that dark chocolate can actually prevent tooth decay, as it's packed with tannins, polyphenols and flavonoids, all of which are antioxidants that prevent mouth bacteria from sticking to your teeth. Tannins are responsible for dark chocolate's slightly bitter taste and dark pigments. More importantly, they neutralize organisms that cause bad breath and halt infections in the gums, thereby helping to lower the risk for gum disease.
However, not every type of chocolate is dental dynamite. The cocoa bean is what contains the healthy upsides, so the closer the confection is to the bean, the better. Dark chocolate, which has a much higher percentage of cocoa, outshines its white and milk chocolate counterparts.
How we get chocolate
To better understand why this is, let's check out the process. Chocolate is extracted from the cocoa plant. Pods are picked from the plant, which contains cocoa beans. These are then crushed, and the mash is fermented for around a week. One of the products we end up with is dark chocolate, a purer form of chocolate that contains nearly twice the amount of cocoa solids than milk chocolate. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, is more refined, and due to its sweeter taste, does not pack the same healthy perks.
Beyond the dental impact, dark chocolate also works wonders for your body. The cocoa decreases cholesterol, protects against skin damage from the sun and releases chemicals in the brain that make us feel happier.
When shopping for this piece of edible heaven, look for chocolate that is 70 percent cocoa or more - this is the best kind of chocolate for preventing tooth decay.
If you've got that sweet tooth this Valentine's Day, a box of dark chocolates is the perfect option that shows "I care about you and your smile."