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Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Next time you visit the grocery store in search of healthy foods to nourish your body, don’t forget to grab some dark chocolate. No, this isn’t a joke!

Raw chocolate has many amazing nutrients that most of us had no idea that our sweet tooth led to creating an abundance of the following healthy attributes:

  1. It can promote cardiovascular health by lowering LDL cholesterol and lowering plaque buildup on the walls of the arteries along with lower risk of heart disease. This is reflected by the benefits of dark chocolate being so heart-healthy and inflammation fighting perks.
  2. It may fight diabetes. According to a 2005 Italian study, they found regularly eating chocolate increases insulin sensitivity and therefore; reducing the risk for diabetes.
  3. It can reduce blood pressure and enhance circulation by aiding in the strength of dilation and health of blood vessels.
  4. It supports digestion while the cacao moves the production of digestive enzymes in the body.
  5. It can balance the free radicals from sun exposure, or pollution by protecting the body through the high level of antioxidants in cacao.
  6. It enhances mental and physical well-being by improving mood, lowering stress and reducing depression.
  7. It reduces stroke risk.

So, how does chocolate boost our brain?

  1. It can make you smarter- According to a British study, the cocoa’s flavanols increase the brain’s blood flow, which seems to make people feel alert and more awake and therefore; perform more efficient on counting tasks and improve thinking skills. “From laboratory studies, we know that flavanols smooth the way for brain cell connections and survival, and protect brain cells from toxins or the negative effects of inflammation,” says Dr. Miguel Alonso-Alonso, a neuroscientist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
  2. It improves vision due to the improvement in the blood flow caused by the benefit of chocolate, may increase blood flow to the retina and therefore; improving vision.
  3. It can quiet a cough, due to the theobromine, an ingredient in chocolate that seems to lower activity of the vagus nerve, the part of the brain that provokes hard to shake off coughing.
  4. It can prevent blood clots, and fight cell damage, due to the flavanols in chocolate.

 

Of course, keep in mind chocolate is high in calories, so according to news out of England, the middle aged to older adults can eat up to 3.5 ounces of chocolate per day to aid in lowering heart disease rates than those who turn down chocolate. Really, who turns down chocolate?  The 3.5 ounces are actually more than 2 standard Hershey bars…..  According to the European Food Safety Authority, it is suggested that 200 mg of cocoa flavonoids per day is a good target for the general population. The higher the cocoa content of the bar, the more health benefits it will provide, usually bars with 70% cocoa or more.

In summary, knowing the many health benefits that chocolate offers to aid in our goal of being healthier, it’s a win-win. But as I always say, all in moderation. As always, consult your health professional before starting any diet to ensure you are on the right track.

I hope this article finds you in good health.

 

Connie

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