August 18, 2012

The Benefits of Dark Chocolate.

With numerous studies and documentation hailing the profound qualities of dark chocolate, it is no wonder that this luscious bean will be always referred to as “the food of the gods.”

Dark chocolate is the one choice that not only appeals to the masses but is actually a nutritionally sound investment in your health. It has become the most popular ingredient in everything from desserts to energy bars, to even the strangest breakfast items.

Cacao, the leading ingredient in dark chocolate, is rather bitter on its own but adding small amounts of pure agave or another organic sweet substance will minimize the effects of the bitterness.

Buying dark chocolate with a seventy percent grade cacao or higher is optimum, as it increases the effects of the following benefits of dark chocolate:

1.) Dark chocolate is good for your heart. Studies show that eating a small amount of dark chocolate a few times per week can help lower blood pressure. It may also prevent arteriosclerosis, which is the hardening of the arteries.

2.) Dark chocolate is good for the brain. It increases blood flow to the brain and heart, so it can improve cognitive function and overall memory. Dark chocolate contains several chemical compounds that have a positive effect on your mood and cognitive health. In addition to containing the stimulant, caffeine, dark chocolate contains phenylalanine, the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you are in love. Eating dark chocolate makes you feel happier, due to the release of endorphins created by phenylalanine.

3.) The antioxidant quality of dark chocolate is quite high and is attributed to the reason why most women are drawn to consume it as often as possible. Antioxidants relieve your body of free radicals, which can damage your cells. Free radicals are the main culprit of the aging process and may be the cause of cancer, so eating dark chocolate regularly can protect you from many types of cancer…and slow the signs of aging.

4.) Dark chocolate has been known to control blood sugar. The flavonoids in dark chocolate help reduce insulin resistance by helping your cells function normally and regain the ability to use your body’s insulin efficiently. It is also low on the glycemic index, which helps stabilize blood sugar.

5.) Dark chocolate is high in vitamins and minerals that can support overall good health. Potassium, copper, magnesium and iron, all help prevent against stroke, cardiovascular ailments, iron deficiency anemia and high blood pressure.

When grocery shopping and choosing dark chocolate, always read the labels and search for the seventy percent or higher cacao content; this will guarantee that you obtain adequate levels of good health and minimize risks of disease.

Women aren’t the only ones jumping on the bandwagon of dark chocolate!

Men have since learned of the benefits and are increasing their knowledge and awareness of eating dark chocolate regularly. Many male athletes will add a small portion to their protein shakes or after-workout meals. Even seasoned chefs, in all types of restaurant fare, are including dark chocolate in almost every menu, as they realize how popular it is, how easy it can be to cook with and the immense health benefits when consumed. Because dark chocolate is known to improve your mood, the common theme around holidays is to present loved ones with dark chocolate. It signifies love, gives you an overall feeling of love inside when eaten and you reap the rewards nutritionally.

Dark chocolate is a rich source of goodness.

However, steer clear of milk chocolate, as it tends to be laden with too many processed sugar and fats and does not have the same amount of health properties that is included in its popular counterpart. If a product claims to be just “chocolate,” chances are it is only milk chocolate, with possible trace amounts of dark. This is still considered a processed food—and therefore it is best to choose only quality dark chocolate, in order to reap its benefits.


Editor: April Hayes

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