Few things are more enjoyable than eating chocolate, and now more and more health reasons for eating dark chocolate keep coming in.
Why dark chocolate? The darker the chocolate (less sugar, milk, and other ingredients), the more cacao it contains. The benefits of chocolate come from cacao, which is the seed pod of a particular tropical American tree. A range of at least 70% to 90% cacao in dark chocolate is both tasty and healthy.
Try to avoid milk chocolate, even though that might be hard. Milk chocolate contains milk, which binds with the healthy polyphenols in cacao and negates the health benefits of eating chocolate. Sugar feeds cancer cells, and we all have cancer cells in our bodies all the time. The trick is not to encourage them to grow and get out of hand.
According to Dr. Debra Miller’s statement in Chemistry Central Journal , “Cacao seeds are a ‘Super Fruit’ providing nutritive value beyond that of their macronutrient composition.”This means one doesn’t have to gorge lots of chocolate every day to get the health benefits. A little treat, like a square or two daily will support good health.
A study of almost 20,000 participants in Germany concluded that those who ate 7.5 grams of dark chocolate a day received most of the heart protection benefits of chocolate. Organic dark chocolate bars are usually 100 grams.
Benefits of dark chocolate
1) Cardiac and stroke protection
Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure, which lowers risks of heart attacks and strokes.
2) Reduces risk of colon cancer
Cocoa polyphenols from dark chocolate reduce the risk of colorectal cancer. This was determined in a study by the Science and Technology Institute of Food and Nutrition in Spain, which was published in the journal Molecular Nutrition.
3) Healthy fats
The fat in chocolate does little to raise cholesterol. It contains abundant oleic acid, the type of fatty acid found in olive oil, which helps prevent heart disease and promote antioxidant activity.
4) Enhances glucose metabolism
Dark chocolate (70% plus) candy bars inhibit blood sugar issues to help prevent diabetes and obesity. How’s that for a surprise!
5) Improves mood
Studies have shown that dark chocolate contains serotonin and increases endorphin production. It’s a natural anti-depressant.
6) Improves brain function
Nottingham University professor Ian MacDonald used MRI analysis to determine improved brain activity with people who had just consumed cocoa drinks. Hopefully they didn’t have to undergo too many MRI scans that would fry their brains!
7) Slows Aging
The high antioxidant content of dark chocolate makes it a potent fighter of the free radicals that hasten us into looking and feeling old before our time.
Final Thoughts on Chocolate as a Health Food
There are many reasons to enjoy organic dark chocolate that is at least 70% cacao. There are brands with 80% to 90% as well. These aren’t your kiddy chocolates with lots of sugar or milk or creamy nugget fillings. These are adult chocolates, semi-sweet at best. The more bitter the better. It’s not difficult to get used to if you really like chocolate, and you can enjoy it with the knowledge that it is actually good for you.