The word chocolate is translated as “food of the gods.” Chocoholics have praised its rich taste and mellow aroma for centuries. Research continues to reveal the benefits of consuming this beloved treat.
Here then is our count-down of four of the best reasons to eat dark chocolate for your good health.
1. What You Already Know: Chocolate is Bursting with Antioxidants
Dark chocolate contains hefty amounts of disease-fighting flavenoids, antioxidants also found in red wine and many fruits and vegetables.
In fact, dark chocolate appears to have more flavenoids than any other food. Here’s the science behind all the antioxidant excitement:
a. The flavanols in dark chocolate stimulate the endothelium, which is the lining of your arteries.
b. In response, the arteries create Nitric Oxide (NO). (Yes, it is a gas.)
c. NO is signals to the articles to relax.
d. Relaxation lowers resistance to blood flow.
e. The blood pressure reduces, in natural reaction, and therefore reduces blood pressure.
There are many controlled trials showing that cocoa and dark chocolate can improve blood flow and lower blood pressure. Be aware that these effects are usually mild, not dramatic.
2. What Might Surprise You: Chocolate Can Clout Your Cholesterol
It is ironic that chocolate, often given in pretty heart shaped boxes, is also good for your actual heart. Mars, Inc., recently conducted a double blind, peer-reviewed study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Inc. They found statistcal proof that daily dark chocolate lowered their cholesterol.
The real headline behind this news is that Dark Chocolate Raises HDL and Protects LDL Against Oxidation. This is good because Oxidized LDL means that the LDL has reacted with free radicals. In turn, this makes the affected LDL particle itself reactive and can damage the lining of the arteries in your heart. Because of protection from the chocolate, less cholesterol is able to lodge in the arteries. That is why we see a lower risk of heart disease over the long term.
3. What Long Term Results Prove: We can put these observations up to the test mirror of research results. Let’s crunch some numbers:
50%: Reduced Percentage of risk of of cardiovascular death reduction in a study of 470 elderly men, over a 15 year period. Cocoa made the difference.
32%: Reduced Percentage of calcified plaque in the arteries. Experts have also revealed that eating chocolate 2 or more times per week can accomplish this percentage. Eating chocolate less frequently had no effect
4. What Can Chocolate Do For Your Brain?
There is strong statistical proof that dark chocolate may also improve the function of the brain. In an amazing study, researchers discovered that voluteers who consumed 5 days of high-flavanol cocoa actually enjoyed improved blood flow to the brain. “Cocoa also contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine, which might account for the briefly improved brain function in such areas as “short term memory.” We suspect that cocoa improves cognitive function in elderly people with mental impairment.
Many studies are progressing, and we hope to unlock even more secrets from this food of the gods. There is one caution we will leave with you: Not all dark chocolate is healthy stuff. It it is over-processed, it is not the proper type for healthy consumption. If it is full of sugar, cornsyrup, extra fat, then it is definitely not “the right stuff.” Needless to say you can not eat pounds of any type of chocolate and expect to retain any health benefits.
One thing we do not have to prove; it is delicious. Instead of giving you another research link, we now present you with a healthy chocolate truffle recipe, courtesy of Elana’s Pantry. Enjoy your dark chocolate, but remember that moderation is key!
Chocolate Power Ball
1 cup Medjool dates, pits removed
2 cups walnuts
½ cup chocolate chunks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon celtic sea sa1 teaspoon water (if necessary)
1. Place dates, walnuts and chocolate in food processor
2. Pulse on high speed until the texture of coarse gravel
3. Pulse in vanilla and salt (if necessary, add water so that dough forms a big ball)
4. Form mixture into one inch balls
5. Serve (Yummy, and good for you too)