Would you believe it if you heard that eating chocolate can help fight fat, reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease or slow the aging process? It probably sounds too good to be true. But current research says chocolate may actually be one of the healthiest treats in your kitchen.
You won’t experience these health benefits from a steady diet of milk chocolate candy bars and ice cream sundaes. But organic dark chocolate, eaten in moderation, can be a very healthy addition to your diet. The secret behind this dark delicacy is that chocolate contains many of the same healthy compounds as the fruits and vegetables we strive to include in our diets.
Did you know that researchers currently believe there are as many as 400 health-promoting nutrients in chocolate? Much like green tea, red wine, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, cocoa contains powerful antioxidants. In particular, cocoa contains polyphenols, which are naturally occurring antioxidants that help protect the body against oxidative stress. Cocoa also contains catechins and epicatechins, both of which are flavonols currently being studied for their roles in helping ward off heart disease and diabetes.
You have probably heard of the health-protecting benefits of red wine. But you might not know that just 1.5 ounces of chocolate contain the same amount of polyphenols as a 5-ounce glass of red wine. The darker the chocolate, the more health-boosting compounds it will contain.
For those of us who were raised by well-meaning parents who warned us of the dangers of a diet filled with sweets, it can be hard to wrap our minds around the fact that chocolate has an important place in a healthy diet. After all, don’t we know that too much chocolate will cause weight gain and increased blood pressure? Actually, studies have shown just the opposite. One such study performed at the University of Illinois discovered that a small daily dose of dark chocolate could help improve blood pressure and regulate cholesterol levels. It’s important to stress that small amounts of dark chocolate were used in the study. The quality of chocolate and eating it in moderation are also important.
Chocolate is good for more than just heart protection and weight control. It can also help improve your mood. Anyone who has ever felt distinct and sweet satisfaction after eating high-quality chocolate should recognize this effect immediately. Chocolate can affect the way you feel, because in addition to its many antioxidants, chocolate also contains several mood-enhancing chemicals, including phenylethylamine and serotonin. These chemicals stimulate the brain and help promote feelings of joy and happiness.
Chocolate has a rich history of medicinal use, dating as far back as the Aztec and Mayan cultures, when a chocolate drink was enjoyed for its ability to provide feelings of alertness. Throughout the ages chocolate continued to be enjoyed for its flavour and health-boosting properties. However, as it became more and more refined and was combined with less-healthy ingredients, chocolate lost its health benefits.
Today, most people view chocolate as a delicious but unhealthy snack. However, researchers are validating many of chocolate’s original health-boosting properties. Advances in modern science allow us to understand why chocolate has benefits for the body. And enjoying it as close to its natural, unrefined state as possible will allow you to taste the delicious, healthy side of the centuries-old treat.
The healthy side of chocolate is wonderful news to chocolate lovers everywhere. But always remember that moderation is key; this good news isn’t an excuse to create a diet plan of candy bars and ice cream. A few ounces a day is all it takes to receive the benefits of dark chocolate.
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Original Article from ‘the art of growing young’ by
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