Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

banana cocoa shakeToday marks National Chocolate Milkshake Day and for cocoa fanatics like myself it’s a grand one. Maybe to some it sounds like another made up food holiday, but either way chocolate has some serious health benefits and is worth celebrating. Dark chocolate—but not milk chocolate or dark chocolate eaten with milk—is a potent antioxidant, according to research completed by Mauro Serafini, Ph.D., and colleagues of Italy's National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Rome. It helps fight free radicals and signs of aging. The dark stuff also lowers high blood pressure, according to research completed by Dirk Taubert, M.D., Ph.D., and colleagues at the University of Cologne, Germany.

It’s easy to incorporate dark chocolate into your diet and your spa’s menu or suggest new cocoa-infused recipes for clients. Try this protein-packed chocolate banana shake I whipped up for breakfast this week. Combine 1 banana, 1½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/3 cup silken tofu, 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and 1 cup ice cubes and blend on high until smooth. It revs the metabolism and keeps hunger at bay throughout a busy day.

The key to benefitting from dark chocolate is noshing sans milk—dairy can actually impede the antioxidants and heart-healthy benefits it contains. Remind clients and yourself to only swap it for other sweets in your diet, not fruits and veggies, those need to stay.

Does your spa include chocolate on the menu or offer cocoa infused treatments?