Are you a chocoholic? I know quite a few in Calgary, Canada, and it’s okay. Who doesn’t love that sweet treat? In fact, studies now reveal the health benefits of dark chocolate, besides helping you through a bad day. You don’t have to hide your chocolates anymore, as long as they’re dark chocolate and not milk chocolate. Of course, there are limitations. The serving size should be between 30 and 60 grams a day and have a 70% higher cocoa content. That means it has lower amounts of sugar and a lot less or absolutely no milk added. Milk interferes with the absorption of polyphenols that provide some of the benefits.
Get heart healthy benefits of dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate contains cocoa polyphenols and flavonoids. For people with slightly elevated blood pressure, that’s good news. The epicatechins in dark chocolate help lower blood pressure because it increases nitric oxide, which stimulates the arteries to relax and expand. According to the Journal of American Medical Association, dark chocolate has other compounds like catechins and flavanols. These are antioxidants that protect the cells.
Boost your brain power with dark chocolate.
That nitric oxide creation that was stimulated by the cocoa polyphenols is also good for the brain. Recent discoveries show that the generic drug sildenafil that boosts nitric oxide can help stave off Alzheimer’s. You probably don’t recognize the generic name, sildenafil, but maybe you’d recognize the brand name, Viagra. It impedes PDE5, allowing more nitric oxide to be produced. Studies show that consuming dark chocolate can improve blood flow to the brain via the same process of improving nitric oxide and lower the risk of both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The high flavanol content boosted brain function. It was shown to improve cognitive functioning in mentally impaired elderly patients.
Lift your mood and protect yourself from cancer and other serious conditions with dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate was a known mood lifter, even before scientific research started. Even in Mesoamerica over 1000 years ago, roasted cacao beans were mixed with honey, cornmeal and chilies to create a drink meant to bring love. It’s the anandamide from a chemical reaction that occurs because of the phenylethylamine in the chocolate that causes relaxation and reduction of anxiety, making it easier for that love connection to occur. The antioxidants in dark chocolate help reduce the growth of cancer cells by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
- Healthy dark chocolate has lower sugar content, few if any additives, no added flavor, isn’t treated with an alkali, sometimes called “dutched,” is processed at a low temperature and has no preservatives.
- While dark chocolate has many healthy qualities, it still contains some sugar and extra calories. Other foods boost nitric oxide, like beet or celery juice. If you’re trying to lose weight, consider the calories, too.
- An 11-year study of 20,000 people showed that people with higher chocolate consumption had a lower potential for cardiovascular disease. Not only can it lower blood pressure, it also reduces bad cholesterol and boosts HDL—good cholesterol.
- A study on older men that lasted 15-years, showed consumption of dark chocolate lowered their risk of plaque build up in the arteries by 32% and the risk of heart disease by over 50%.
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