Well, yes, dark chocolate is  good for you.

dark chocolate is good for you

Few things are as seductive or as satisfying as chocolate. A piece of chocolate has long been, for many, the Number 1 guilty pleasure. More than once, I’ve gobbled a Mounds Bar on the way home from the supermarket. Of course, the guilty part was because (1) I wasn’t sharing it, and (2) it was sinfully unhealthy. All that chocolate and sugar and coconut would probably cause a coronary before I reached my driveway.

Now it turns out my secret pleasure was nothing to feel guilty about. It was actually good for me.  Chocolate – dark chocolate, anyway – has many health benefits and is now even recommended by nutritionists and dietitians. No more guilt for me, but lots of pleasure. (The jury is still out on coconut. Some experts maintain it’s good for you; others  disagree.)

Here’s what we now know about the health benefits of dark chocolate:*

  1. It lowers one’s blood pressure. It improves blood flow (circulation) and may help prevent the formation of blood clots. It may also prevent arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). A Mayo Clinic report suggests that moderate amounts of dark chocolate may reduce the risk of blood clots and platelet formation in the arteries that can lead to stroke. Its effect is similar to low-dose aspirin, and it’s lots more fun to take.
  2. It improves cognitive function (thinking and memory) in that it increases blood flow to the brain as well as throughout the body, so it may be beneficial in preventing dementia.
  3. It protects against Type-2 Diabetes. The flavonoids in dark chocolate help your cells function normally and retain efficiency in utilizing your body’s insulin. Dark chocolate has a low glycemic index, which means it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels.
  4. It helps protect from cancer and premature aging. Dark chocolate is bursting with antioxidants, which cleanse your body of free radicals, which are part of the reason we show signs of aging, and may be a cause of cancer.
  5. It hardens tooth enamel. Dark chocolate contains theobromine, which lowers the incidence of cavities.
  6. Theobromine, a component of dark chocolate, is a mild stimulant, which also inhibits coughing. Researchers at Imperial College (London) found that Theobromine is nearly a third more effective than codeine and has none of the side effects, e.g: drowsiness.
  7. It contains a number of essential vitamins (A, B1, C, D, and E) and minerals (Potassium, Copper, Magnesium, Iron). Cocoa is the highest natural source of Magnesium, which protects against hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, joint problems and pre-menstrual tension.
  8. It lowers bad cholesterol (LDL) levels. Dark chocolate is good for you because it consists mainly of stearic acid, a neutral saturated fat that doesn’t raise your LDL level. It contains oleic, a monounsaturated fat like that found in olive oil, and may even raise your good cholesterol (HDL) levels.
  9. It helps with weight loss because (a) Substituting dark chocolate for some of the sugary foods you like may help reduce insulin resistance. (Sugar causes the cells to develop insulin resistance, which deprives the cells of nutrition.) (b) Dark chocolate is more filling (than milk chocolate) and lowers between-meals craving for snack foods.(c) Eating dark chocolate reduces stress, which is a major cause of overeating.
  10. It makes you feel good. Dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), the “happy chemical” our brain produces in response to joy and love. Chocolate also boosts serotonin – our brain’s own anti-depressant – as well as endorphin levels in the brain. (Endorphins, produced by the pituitary and hypothalamus, resemble opiates in their ability to inhibit pain and enhance a feeling of wellbeing, relaxation and comfort.)
  11. Wait a minute, let’s back up. Return to #1: Did I mention that dark chocolate improves blood flow? Could it therefore enrich one’s love life, thereby restoring one’s confidence and self-image, to say nothing of enhancing one’s relationship? Hmmmmmm………..

We’re just beginning to learn about the seemingly miraculous cocoa bean, which contains more than 300 natural chemicals. It already seems to be an almost perfect food. Who knows what further discoveries will emerge from scientific research?

dark chocolate is good for you

Since dark chocolate’s health benefits began to be widely known, candy companies have come out with a variety of offerings: Snickers now has a dark chocolate version of its ever-popular candy bar. Hershey has Cacao Reserve, which Consumers Report ranks #1. And there’s my old favorite, Mounds bar.

In my research on dark chocolate I found that pretty much anything you’ll ever want or need is available at the click of a mouse, e.g: even organic, vegan, milk-free, and/or kosher dark chocolates. It’s available at any candy store or grocery market. I get my dark chocolate at a store that sells it in bulk. I buy a block of it, then just whack off a small chunk a few times a week for a nutritious, heart-healthy, memory enhancing, tooth protecting, weight reducing, hypertension lowering, cough inhibiting, anti-aging, cancer preventing, joint soothing, stroke deterring, diabetes thwarting, mood elevating treat. Imagine, all that in a small chunk of something so yummy!

Given all I’ve just shared about why dark chocolate is good for you, who’s going to join me?

 Dark Chocolate is Good for You

 

 

 


* It should be noted that milk binds to antioxidants, inhibiting their absorption. Therefore, milk chocolate is not an antioxidant source (it is also higher in fat and calories). Also avoid drinking milk with dark chocolate to get the full benefits of antioxidants. 70% or more dark chocolate is best.

 

 

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