{A love affair with chocolate…why it’s HEALTHY}

Chocolate. Who doesn’t love it’s decadence? Traditionally it reigns the dessert domain. We can now even find it in drinks, pancakes, and other breakfast foods, healthy bars and so on…This sneaky and delicious food has now been proven to have health benefits. Amen to that. So what’s in it!? A recent study posted on BBC health news states that chocolate may help protect against STROKE. Why? Because it contains a powerful compound named flavonoids. “Flavonoids appear to be protective against cardiovascular disease through antioxidant, anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory properties….It’s also possible that flavonoids in chocolate may decrease blood concentrations of bad cholesterol and reduce blood pressure.” Impressed yet? The article doesn’t grant you permission to go binge eating and order a dozen chocolate soufflés…Remember this magical substance also pack lots of sugar and fat which can lead you to gain weight. However, the article recommends eating chocolate once or twice a week and with moderation (less that half a bar in total during the whole week). Personally I love the Dove chocolate bars. They are divided in a grid like pattern, so it’s portion controlled….When I’m craving sweets, I’ll break apart 1 or 2 little squares and yes…indulge….Now BBC has given me a reason to do this! I’m so happy…

Dark vs Milk. What’s the difference? Well, dark chocolate is packed with additional antioxidants. As many of you may know these powerful compounds help get rid of damaging free radicals found in your body. What are free radicals? They are substances produced by your body when you are subject to STRESS..yes…Sun tanning and smoking in particularly have been proven to increase the production of free radicals. They may also be involved in the development of some diseases such as cancer, stroke and emphysema. Why? Because free radicals damage your blood vessels and may also trigger mutations in your DNA which can eventually lead to cancer. However, they are also an essential component of many biological processes in our body. For instance they play a role in helping our body get rid of threatening bacteria.

So in terms of healthy antioxidant content: cocoa powder > unsweetened baking chocolate > dark chocolate > semi-sweet chocolate chips > milk chocolate 

Additionally another study on chocolate suggested that “…antioxidant compounds, called catechins, can improve lean muscle mass and reduce weight…” So you are likely to benefit from adding antioxidant rich food into your diet. Cacao powder, green tea, and berries are also great sources. And for all the vegans and vegetarians reading this…get this…SOY is another powerful source of flavinoids. In other words it is also has great antioxidant & anti-inflammatory properties. Not a big fan of these? Well… incorporating vitamin A, C, and E into your diet can also do the trick since these vitamins in particular have been proven to play a major role in fighting free radicals. While all flavonoids are antioxidants, some have stronger antioxidant properties than others depending on their chemical structure. Raw cocoa powder ranks very high in terms of antioxidant properties and subsequent health benefits.

Good news for diabetics: one study showed that regular consumption of high-flavonoid cocoa for one month “improved participants’ diabetes as much as exercise and many common diabetic medications.” Likewise, consuming dark, unprocessed chocolate also demonstrated to have a positive impact on regulating blood pressure and protecting your cardiovascular system.

So there you have the skinny of chocolate. Hope you enjoyed my article!

If you want more information on the incredible benefits of chocolate, here are some great articles:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19402143 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-10986625 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/7363004.stm 

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/05/25/dark-chocolate-guards-against-brain-injury.aspx 

 

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