WE SHOULD ALL EAT MORE CHOCOLATE: HERE’S WHY

No, your eyes did not trick you! Ever heard of ‘everything you love is bad for you’? Well, according to the latest in scrumptious research, this certainly doesnt hold true for chocolate. Let me break down the WHYs for you.

Chocolate lovers rejoice when the benefits of antioxidants found in chocolate are talked about, but it’s important to realize that not all chocolate is created equal. The potential health benefits of processed, highly sweetened chocolate are slim to none, but the health benefits of dark chocolate are numerous and quite impressive. Your dark chocolate of choice should also be made from cocoa butter, not palm and/or coconut oils. Also look out for any hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils in the ingredient list. Now that huge commercial chocolate makers are responding to the love of dark chocolate and making their own versions, you have to be careful. A label that reads “dark chocolate” doesn’t automatically make it a healthy choice. The healthiest or best dark chocolate is made from cacao or cocoa that’s organic, minimally processed and definitely not dutched.

As preventive cardiologist Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City says, “When looking for a sweet snack, a square of dark chocolate might, in fact, be your healthiest choice!”

 

Let’s look at exactly why this expert medical opinion really does ring true and why a little dark chocolate is more than just a tasty treat — with health benefits of dark chocolate that include protection against disease and improved brain and heart health.

  1. Potential Cancer prevention:It may be hard to believe, but that tasty dark chocolate you eat and love may also help you ward off cancer. That’s right — one of the benefits of dark chocolate is its potential as a cancer-fighting food.2. According to the American Cancer Institute:

     

     

     

    “Given chocolate’s rich supply of flavonoids, researchers have also investigated whether it may play a role in cancer prevention. The studies in cancer prevention are still emerging. A recent review of studies on the cancer protective properties of cocoa concluded that the evidence is limited but suggestive. More rigorous studies should be conducted on chocolates’ cancer protective role, concluded the author, because it provides ‘strong antioxidant effects in combination with a pleasurable eating experience.’”

2. Protection against free radicals:

Like most radicals humans or otherwise, free radicals are also no good for your health. Free radicals are unbalanced, damaging chemical compounds created by your body that circulate in the blood and cause a significant amount of damage to blood vessels and other vital organs. On the other hand, antioxidants are the compounds that are believed to neutralize free radicals and protect the body from their damage. And good for all the dark chocolate lovers out there in the universe, one of the most significant compositions of dark chocolate is flavonoids, that have been chemically proven to be excellent antioxidants.

3. Improved heart health:

Here’s a big reason to hold your love for chocolate close to your heart; according to Cleveland Clinic, research has shown that flavanols have a very positive effect on heart health by helping lower blood pressure and improving blood flow to the heart as well as the brain. Dark chocolates flavanols can also help make blood platelets less sticky and able to clot, which reduces the risk of blood clots and stroke.

4. Good for your cholesterol profile:

A 2009 study published in Southern Medical Journal looked at the effects of dark chocolate on 28 healthy voluntary subjects. The researchers found that just one week of dark chocolate consumption improved lipid profiles and decreased platelet reactivity for both men and women while reducing inflammation only in women. The cocoa butter found in dark chocolate contains equal amounts of oleic acid (a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat also found in olive oil), stearic and palmitic acids. It’s true that stearic and palmitic acids are forms of saturated fat, but research shows that stearic acid appears to have a neutral effect on cholesterol, which means it doesn’t raise it or lower it.

5. Improved mental function:

Flavonols in dark chocolate have been shown to improve cognitive and overall mental function by increasing blood flow to the brain.

So is dark chocolate good for you? Most certainly yes, as long as you choose the right product. When you choose the best and healthiest option, there are so many awesome benefits of dark chocolate.

In moderation (one ounce or less per day), dark chocolate has been shown to improve so many common and chronic health problems. With all of its natural and health-promoting components (like flavonoids, polyphenols and flavanols), dark chocolate is an antioxidant powerhouse and a superfood that’s truly a joy to eat. It’s been shown to boost heart and brain health, along with fight disease — just some of the many benefits of dark chocolate.

Dr. Annie

Physician, mom and wife

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