Why Dark Chocolate Is Healthy

Functional Aging

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  1. Why Dark Chocolate Is Healthy

    I remember as a child, my parents warning me about the dangers of candy and chocolate.  For obvious reasons, anything loaded with sugar cannot be good for you.  But wait, what about the dark chocolates?  Are there any health benefits to eating this delicious candy? Does the good outweigh the bad?   If so, how much is too much?

    A little lesson on exactly what chocolate is:

    Chocolate is made from plants, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are from flavonoids.   Flavonoids help protect plants from environmental toxins and help repair damage. They can be found in a variety of foods, such as fruits and vegetables. When we eat foods rich in flavonoids, it appears that we also benefit from this “antioxidant” power.   What are antioxidants?

    Antioxidants are believed to help the body’s cells resist damage caused by free radicals that are formed by normal bodily processes, such as breathing, and from environmental contaminants, like cigarette smoke. If your body does not have enough antioxidants to combat the amount of oxidation that occurs, it can become damaged by free radicals. For example, an increase in oxidation can cause low-density lipoprotein (LDL), also known as “bad” cholesterol, to form plaque on the artery walls.

    An interesting fact about this dark chocolate is that it contains nearly 8 times more antioxidants than the number found in strawberries.

    Flavanols are the main type of flavonoid found in cocoa and chocolate. In addition to having antioxidant qualities, research shows that flavanols have other potential influences on vascular health, such as lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow to the brain and heart, and making blood platelets less sticky and able to clot.

    Heart Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate:

    Dark chocolate is good for your heart. A small bar of it every day can help keep your heart and cardiovascular system running well. Two heart health benefits of dark chocolate are:

    Lower Blood Pressure:  Studies have shown that consuming a small bar of dark chocolate everyday can reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure.

    Lower Cholesterol: Dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent.

    Other Benefits of Dark Chocolate:

    It tastes good

    It stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure

    It contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant

    It contains theobromine, caffeine and other substances which are stimulants

    Doesn’t Chocolate Have a lot of Fat?

    Here is some more good news — some of the fats in chocolate do not impact your cholesterol. The fats in chocolate are 1/3 oleic acid, 1/3 stearic acid and 1/3 palmitic acid:

    Oleic Acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is also found in olive oil.

    Stearic Acid is a saturated fat but one which research is shows has a neutral effect on cholesterol.

    Palmitic Acid is also a saturated fat, one which raises cholesterol and heart disease risk.

    That means only 1/3 of the fat in dark chocolate is bad for you.

    Tips on eating chocolate:

    Chocolate Tip 1 – Balance the Calories:

    This information doesn’t mean that you should eat as much chocolate as you like. Chocolate is still a high-calorie, high-fat food. Most of the studies done used no more than 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces, of dark chocolate a day to get the benefits.

    One bar of dark chocolate has around 400 calories. If you eat half a bar of chocolate a day, you must balance those 200 calories by eating less of something else. Cut out other sweets or snacks and replace them with chocolate to keep your total calories the same.  Remember it won’t take long to pile up 3500 extra calories which = a pound of fat.

    Chocolate Tip 2 – Go for Dark Chocolate not the white or milk chocolate:

    Dark chocolate has far more antioxidants than milk or white chocolate. These other two chocolates cannot make any health claims. Dark chocolate has 65 percent or higher cocoa content.

    Chocolate Tip 3 – Eat it plain, without caramel or nougat:

    You should look for pure dark chocolate or dark chocolate with nuts, orange peel or other flavorings. Avoid anything with caramel, nougat or other fillings. These fillings are just adding sugar and fat which erase many of the benefits you get from eating the chocolate.

    So enjoy your Valentine holiday and buy a bit of dark chocolate for your beloved!  You may be helping them lower their blood pressure and cholesterol!   Besides that, they are increasing those endorphin and serotonin levels – which can lead to a happier day or night!

    Sources: Chocolate Manufacturers Association; Journal of the American Medical Association


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(361) 857-5087 info@ypbtrainingstudio.com