Tue, Aug 21st 2012 02:00 pm
Evan Apostolakis, N.D., Alive Medicine
During the past ten years research has found that chocolate, specifically, dark chocolate – not the milk variety which is not chocolate at all – has numerous health benefits. Quality dark chocolate has cocoa as its main ingredient. Cocoa is loaded with flavonoids which give the tasty treat its health promoting properties.
Here are Alive Medicine’s top 6 health benefits of dark chocolate:
1. It lessens your risk of heart disease: Coronary heart disease is the number one killer in North America and many parts of the world. Dark chocolate contains flavanoids which are compounds that act as antioxidants. Flavanoids protect the body against harmful molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals cause cell damage that often leads to heart disease. Studies have shown that flavanoids can decrease LDL or “bad cholesterol” and blood pressure by 10 percent, both of which can lead to the development of heart disease and sudden death.
2. It reduces your risk of stroke: Stroke is the third leading cause of death. A 2011 Swedish study, found that women that ate dark chocolate regularly had a 20 percent less chance of suffering a stroke than women that did not.
3. Helps to keep blood sugar in check: Dark chocolate helps prevent against type 2 diabetes by keeping your blood vessels healthy and prevents your circulation from impairing. A 2005 italian study found that eating dark chocolate regularly increases insulin sensitivity which reduces the risk of developing diabetes. Dark chocolate is also lower in sugar than commercial chocolate and won’t cause blood sugar to spike.
4. It gives your mood a boost: Dark chocolate contains PEA (phenylethylamine), the chemical that your brain creates when you fall in love. Dark chocolate contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, the chemicals in the brain that bring feelings of pleasure.
5. It protects your skin: The flavonoids in dark chocolate help protect against UV damage from the sun. German researchers found that the flavonoids help absorb UV light, and also help protect and increase blood flow to the skin. Furthermore, dark chocolate was found to improve the skin’s hydration and complexion.
6. It is one of the most nutrient-rich foods available. Dark chocolate has more antioxidants per gram than red wine, green tea or berries. It also has high amounts of potassium, copper, magnesium, phosphorous, and iron, and contains about 1 gram of protein and 2 grams of dietary fiber per ounce.
Tip: When shopping for dark chocolate choose one that is labeled with at least 60% cocoa, the more cocoa the more benefit.. Also, if the first ingredient in the chocolate you choose is sugar and not cocoa, put it back on the shelf, that is not real chocolate. Finally, dark chocolate is high in calories, so moderation is key, about a small square or two….okay three max every other day.