Believe it or not, chocolate is very good for your overall heath! After years of being put down, science has finally come around to give chocolate the respect it deserves. Chocolate has been known to contain over 300 chemicals, and has been the subject of a number of studies by universities and other scientific organizations. The following are a few of the findings in the scientific community to back up the positive health benefits of chocolate:
1. Cacao, the source of chocolate, contains antibacterial agents that fight tooth decay. Of course, this is counteracted by the high sugar content of milk chocolate.
2. The smell of chocolate may increase theta brain waves, resulting in relaxation.
3. Chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine, a mild mood elevator.
4. The cocoa butter in chocolate contains oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fat which may raise good cholesterol.
5. Drinking a cup of hot chocolate before meals may actually diminish appetite.
6. Men who eat chocolate live a year longer than those who don’t.
7. The flavonoids in chocolate may help keep blood vessels elastic.
8. Chocolate increases antioxidant levels in the blood.
9. Mexican healers use chocolate to treat bronchitis and insect bites.
10. The carbohydrates in chocolate raise serotonin levels in the brain, resulting in a sense of well-being.
Another strong suite for chocolate is the amount of antioxidants that it has naturally. Most of us have heard that antioxidants are good for you, but what do antioxidants do? Basically, antioxidants get rid of the things in our bodies that attack DNA, which will in turn damage the cell membranes and our hearts making cancer and heart attacks far more likely. These attackers often called free radicals, attack our cell structure and are the cause of aging, so there really is no way of stopping them from attacking us. So in theory, the more antioxidants you eat the longer you are likely to live because they help defend your body against the attackers.
Antioxidants are found in many natural plants. You can tell how rich they are in antioxidants by the color of the plant’s bearings or the plant itself. The deeper the color, the more antioxidants the food contains. For example, blackberries, blueberries and red grapes all dark in color, all rich in intense antioxidants. Now look at the color of natural chocolate, it is so dark it is almost black, making it one of the healthiest foods you can put in your mouth. Keep in mind this is natural chocolate that has not been overly processed. Researchers have found that raw and/or minimally processed cocoa contains flavonoids similar to those found in green tea. According to preliminary studies, these antioxidants have been linked to help accomplish the following in the body:
• Decrease blood pressure
• Improve circulation throughout the body
• Lower death rate from heart disease
• Improve function of endothelial cells that line the blood vessels
• Defend against destructive molecules called free radicals, which trigger cancer, heart disease and stroke
• Improve Digestion and stimulate kidneys
• Has been used to help treat patients with anemia, kidney stones and poor appetite
There are two different kinds of flavonoids called catechin and epicatechins. Catechins, which have recently been found to be abundant in cocoa and minimally processed chocolates, could also help prevent heart disease and possibly cancer, as well as boosting the immune system, according to recent studies. Dark chocolate has also recently been found to contain more than 3 times the amount of catechins as that found in tea. Chocolate is also a good source of copper and magnesium, which helps to regulate heartbeat and blood pressure. So there it is, chocolate worth eating, but as in any food, a mass quantity can be destructive. By giving someone a basket of chocolate goodies or having some yourself, you can effectively causing an uplifting emotional but also healthy outcome. Have you had your chocolate today? If you are going to have chocolate, preferably have some dark chocolate (or near pure cocoa) with minimum amounts of refined sugar and unhealthy saturated fats.