Updated: 5 days ago
We’ve now entered the time of year when candy is all over the place. Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter…pretty much half the year is taken up by holidays that involve candy. If you’re trying to eat healthier, it’s certainly a lot more challenging when you’re constantly tempted by candy.
So what can you do if you’re trying to be healthier over the holidays? Well, you could certainly just choose to avoid candy. If you find that candy is a trigger food for you – meaning that once you have one piece of candy, it’s almost impossible for you to avoid eating a whole lot more – then staying away completely may be the smartest option.
But if you’d like to indulge in moderation, there’s one type of candy that I recommend choosing. It will protect your skin health, gut health, and even your overall health.
Health benefits of dark chocolate
If you decide to indulge in candy, by far the best choice is dark chocolate. Not only is it the least harmful candy type – it’s actually been found to have health benefits.
Dark chocolate contains a high level of polyphenols. These are a type of antioxidants, which are substances that protect your cells from damage. When your cells metabolize oxygen, there are some toxic substances created. It’s important to soak up these toxins before they cause damage to the structure of the cell. That’s what antioxidants do. So making sure that you get a lot of polyphenols can help to protect your tissues from damage.
Polyphenols also act as food for your gut bacteria. They’ve been shown to promote the growth of certain species that are associated with health benefits. When polyphenols are around, you get more of these beneficial bacteria in your gut. That’s great for your mood, your immune system function, and your skin health.
There are also other good sources of polyphenols. Coffee and tea both have high levels. Berries are also high in polyphenols – this can be a great alternative sweet treat, if you’re avoiding candy.
Choose the darkest possible chocolate
The only unhealthy thing in dark chocolate is the sugar. Sugar is not great for the microbiome – it promotes the growth of species that are associated with health problems, like increased chronic inflammation. If you choose a type of chocolate that contains a lot of sugar, then the harm from the sugar could cancel out the benefit from the polyphenols.
What makes it dark chocolate, rather than milk chocolate, is simply that it doesn’t contain milk. The category of “dark chocolate” has nothing to do with the amount of sugar. Some dark chocolate is actually very high in sugar. If you’re looking for the health benefits, it’s best to choose a dark chocolate that contains as little sugar as possible.
The percent listed on the dark chocolate refers to how much of the chocolate is actually made up of cocoa. In dark chocolate, the rest is mainly sugar. That means that a higher percentage correlates with less sugar. Try to choose chocolate that’s 70% or higher. If you find that too bitter, 60% is still good for you. Any less than that, and you’re potentially going to do more harm than good by eating it.
So go ahead and indulge in dark chocolate! As long as it doesn’t contain too much sugar, it can be great for your skin health.
If you’d like more support in making healthy choices, I’d love to see you inside my signature program, Mind Gut Skin Academy. The brand-new version of the program will be opening its doors soon! To learn more or to get on the waitlist (so you’re among the first to get a spot!), head here.
Questions For Journaling
I strongly believe in the power of journaling, so I offer journal prompts on each blog post for those who would like to explore the topic in their own lives. If you’ve never tried journaling, simply write freely about these questions, with no editing at all, until you feel like you truly understand what you’re thinking and feeling.
Am I tempted by candy? Do I find it hard to stop eating it?
Is candy a trigger food for me – meaning that it causes me to fall into unhealthy eating patterns? Is this something I should avoid completely, to protect my health?
If I feel like I can indulge in candy in moderation, how can I help myself to choose the healthiest possible candy? What strategies will I use to ensure that I stay within healthy limits?