Dark Chocolate Shown to Benefit a Variety of Health Conditions
Raw, dark chocolate has been known to have significant health benefits. Research studies continue to reveal that chocolate may hold clues to fighting more and more types of diseases. It is great news that the enjoyment and satisfaction of chocolate can be linked to healthiness and well-being. Here’s how research involving chocolate consumption has been shown to benefit conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression and more.
Cancer and Heart Disease
Raw cacao and dark chocolate contain even greater amounts of the antioxidant compounds found in red wine or green tea. In protecting cells from toxins, as well as damaging and slowing the growth of cancer cells, antioxidants help reduce cancer risks and heart disease. The more cacao contained in chocolate, the more antioxidants it contains. Keep in mind that white chocolate does not contain antioxidants.
Despite being high in fats, studies have shown that chocolate consumption does not raise cholesterol, due to the type of saturated fat it contains. Less harmful saturated fats mean less harmful cholesterol and artery-clogging plaque. In fact, dark chocolate may help boost good cholesterol.
Consuming chocolate is thought to have an opiate effect on the body, possibly helping ease mood disorders. In addition, the fat contained in chocolate helps provide a feeling of satisfaction and pleasure, releasing endorphins that positively affect mood. Chocolate also may help cases of depression and soothe anxiety. Certain research study participants diagnosed with depression found relief from their depression when given dark chocolate.
High Blood Pressure and Circulation
Dark chocolate has been shown to help prevent blood platelets from aggregating, thus minimizing blood clots. In fact, one research study showed that consuming a small amount of dark chocolate each day slightly lowered blood pressure. This effect is due to the level of flavonoids in cacao that improve the level of protection against heart disease and encourage good circulation. Flavonoids tend to be lower in milk chocolate so stick with the dark. In addition, the Dutching process used in making cocoa powder also reduces flavanols, so look for naturally processed cocoa.
How Much Chocolate To Consume
To reap the possible health benefits, try adding 1 ounce of dark chocolate per day to your diet. Make sure there are no refined sugars or hydrogenated oils used in making the chocolate. There should also be a high cocoa percentage (70% or above) in the chocolate bar. Keep in mind that chocolate will add calories, so make dietary adjustments accordingly.