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Chocolate and Health Benefits; Is Chocolate Really Health Food?

 

Yes it is! And what a delicious way to be healthy!

 

Do you remember Woody Allen's futuristic science fiction comedy film "Sleeper", in which cryogenically frozen Allen is defrosted 200 years later at a time when hot fudge is good for you? At the time the movie came out, such a notion was preposterous. Now, health authorities tout the benefits of eating dark chocolate. The caveat is that in order to be of benefit, chocolate has to be eaten in moderate amounts, though it has been successfully used therapeutically in larger amounts in the treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. But for most of us, “over eating” chocolate, will have a “not so healthy” affect because it is also high in saturated fats. I don't know anyone who enjoys eating cocoa powder with no sugar, milk, or cream, except for maybe an Aztec or two. Chocolate and health benefits are no longer words that seem strange when used together.

 

Chocolate and health benefits represent an idea that is well recognized worldwide as based in scientific fact. The Aztec Indians and inhabitants of Central America enjoyed drinks made from the cocoa bean as part of their regular diet. And the drinks were believed to be health producing. What? No sugar, no cream? These drinks were not tasty to our palates. The Europeans remedied that little detail pretty quickly and gave us the confection that we know and love.

 

Here are a few examples of the benefits of eating chocolate. 

 

1. Cocoa powder contains resveratrol, one of many phytochemicals found in plant food. A class of phytochemicals known as flavonoids, protect the body cells from damage that leads to disease, even cancer. Flavonoids also regulate blood sugar, preventing spikes in blood sugar levels, a key factor in managing type 2 diabetes. Another benefit of flavonoids is that they provide protection against dementia and alzheimer's disease. Dark chocolate, red wine and tea are all foods that are high in flavonoids.

 

2. Another great property of chocolate is that it contains antioxidants. 100 grams of dark chocolate provides as many antioxidants as 100 grams of spinach, kale, or raisins.  The antioxidants found in cocoa can provide cardiac benefits by lowering blood pressure and improving blood flow to the brain and heart. They also lower cholesterol.

 

3. Chocolate is high in potassium. Potassium is a mineral, an electrolyte which is a substance that maintains your body's fluid levels. Potassium helps regulate blood pressure and heart function. Among other wonderful things, potassium can lower your blood pressure.

 

4. Chocolate is a great mood enhancer. It can affect the brain by causing the release of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin (anti-depressant) and endorphins (lessens pain, reduces stress). It leads to a feeling of euphoria. That is why people say the feeling one gets from eating chocolate is akin to being in love. That’s a nice thought.

 

Isn’t it nice to know that you can eat something you love with no guilt, or give a box of good chocolate to someone, and you’re giving them something that is actually good for their health? You might have to send instructions on not eating more than 3 pieces in one sitting. Or say nothing at all.

 

Chocolate and health benefits are here to stay. Eat only the best chocolate in moderation and ENJOY!

 

-Joan Saloomey

 

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