Health Benefits of Chocolate
- Good news for acne sufferers, studies show that chocolate neither contributes nor reduces the out break of acne. In two different studies, results indicate that acne is primarily not linked to diet, and that eating or not eating chocolate made no significant difference to the participant’s acne condition.
- Chocolate has not been shown to cause cavities or tooth decay. On the contrary, there are indications that the cocoa butter in chocolate may help protect the teeth from harmful plaque formation by coating the teeth and inhibiting plaque to adhere. However, the sugar in the chocolate can contribute to cavities, but no more than sugars in any other food.
- The fat in chocolate isn’t as bad as it was once thought. Cocoa butter is the fat found in real chocolate that hasn’t been modified with fat substitutes. Cocoa butter is comprised of equal amounts of oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat, also found in olive oil), and stearic and palmitic acids. Stearic and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fats, which are linked to the risk of heart disease. Research indicates that stearic acid appears to have a neutral effect on cholesterol, neither raising it or lowering it. Palmitic acid does raise cholesterol levels, but only comprises one-third of the fat calories in chocolate. Thus the fat in chocolate is not all bad, and is healthier than once thought.
- Eating too much of anything can contribute to health problems. The cocoa butter in chocolate is a saturated fat, and in excess can contribute to increased blood cholesterol levels, which in turn contributes to heart disease. However, research also shows that chocolates contain high levels of flavonoids (polyphenolics), which may help lower the risk of heart disease. Plants which contain high levels of flavonols include: chocolate, coffee, and tea. The antioxidant properties of the flavonols are believed to help prevent the fat-like substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries.
- Chocolate, especially dark chocolate is good for your health. Researchers have found that chocolates may keep high blood pressure down, and your blood flowing and your heart healthy. Studies have shown that cocoa helps the body process nitric oxide (NO), a compound critical for healthy blood flow and blood pressure. The link between the consumption of flavonol-rich cocoa and nitric oxide synthesis in the role of maintaining healthy blood pressure has promising public health implications.
- Another study showed that flavonols in cocoa prevent fat-like substances in the bloodstream from oxidizing and clogging the arteries, making the platelets less likely to stick together and cause clots. Flavonoids are plant compounds with potent antioxidant properties that help protect the body from the harmful effects of free radicals that form in the body. Damage from free radicals lead to increased LDL-cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) oxidation and plaque formation on artery walls. Cocoa beans contain the largest quantities of flavonols. Other fruits and vegetables that contain high levels of flavonols are red wine, tea, cranberries, peanuts, strawberries, apples and others. Consumption of chocolate, with its high flavonol content, has been shown to promote healthy blood flow, thus reducing the risk of clots and the risk of stroke and heart attacks.
- Other researchers have found that flavonoids in chocolate are more powerful than vitamins, such as ascorbic acid, in protecting circulating lipids from oxidation. This protective factor helps prevent plaque formation on artery walls.
- The more the chocolate is processed, the less flavonoids it will contain. Processing includes fermentation, alkalizing, and roasting. Most commercial chocolates are heavily processed and contain less flavonoids. Your best bet is to choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate, as dark chocolate retains the highest levels of flavonoids.
- common foods, such as prunes and blueberries. The ORAC values measure how powerful an antioxidant substance is. The higher the value, the better its ability to inhibit the oxidation of free radicals in the body and its harmful effects. Dark chocolate has the highest level at 13,000 ORAC, and milk chocolate at 6,700 ORAC. Unsweetened cocoa powder starts out with almost twice as much antioxidants as dark chocolate, but when it’s diluted with milk or water and sugar to make hot chocolate, the flavonoid content plummets to about half of milk chocolate.
- A Harvard School of Public Health study found that those who eat chocolate and sweets up to three times each month live almost a year longer than those who eat too much or those who steer clear of junk altogether. Chocolate to your health!
- Research suggests that chocolate is a more effective cough suppressant than codeine.
- The feel good properties of chocolate may be associated to a naturally occurring neurotransmitter in the brain, anandamide, that is also found in chocolate. Anandamide, like other neurotransmitters, break down quickly after it’s produced. Researchers have found that other substances in chocolate inhibit the natural break down of anandamide.
To your health!