Chocolate is not just a tasty treat but it is actually healthy for you in small quantities. Researchers have spent many years studying this delicious food and it has been borne out in a number of studies that dark chocolate, which is bitterer in taste than milk chocolate or other forms of chocolate, has a number of benefits to health. Dark chocolate, red wine and green tea has been shown to share many of the same health characteristics.
Antioxidants are to be found in dark chocolate, which is to say that they fight cancer. The other health benefits that have been connected to dark chocolate include a tremendous improvement in the work of the arteries and blood vessels; the lowering of high blood pressure; a lower incidence of deaths as related to heart disease; improved efficiency of the endothelial cells; better digestive process and increased stimulation of the kidneys.
Flavonoids that are found in chocolate have been used to help people who suffer from anemia, a poor appetite and kidney stones. Dark chocolate is instrumental in fighting bad cholesterol in the blood vessels and it lowers blood pressure and greatly improves the circulation of blood from the heart to the brain and then back again.
According to a recent ZDNet article, chocolate hardens the enamel of teeth and may make them less susceptible to decay. They quote Tulane University Magazine, which claims that chocolate toothpaste is better than fluoride.
- “The cocoa extract could offer the first major innovation to commercial toothpaste since manufacturers began adding fluoride to toothpaste in 1914.”
Dark chocolate is believed to set off a biochemical effect in the brain that helps to clot the blood much in the same way as aspirin does if a person suspects that they are suffering a heart attack.
Dark chocolate contains the minerals copper and magnesium and both of these minerals are necessary for a normal functioning heartbeat and for stable blood pressure. Be aware however that chocolate is fattening and it contains caffeine so never overdo a good thing. In order to get the dark chocolate you need experts say that the very best source is the dried extract of roasted cocoa beans.
Dove Dark Bars
If you cannot consume chocolate this way or if it is not for you then the second best option is to eat a small chocolate bar that is approximately 1.6 ounces. This is just enough chocolate to keep the heart as healthy as possible and to keep the blood vessels opened wide, allowing blood to freely circulate. There are many dark chocolate bars on the market but one of the best in terms of high cocoa content is the Dove Dark chocolate bar. Even eating a few tiny pieces, such as three or four squares broken off from a chocolate bar can be of tremendous benefit to the heart.
Keep in mind that eating any type of chocolate is not enough to keep the heart Ã¢â‚¬Å“heart healthy.Ã¢â‚¬Â What you need to eat specifically is dark chocolate as dark chocolate has the most cocoa in it and the most flavonoids. Before it was discovered that cocoa contained healthy substances called flavonoids, chocolate manufacturers used to destroy all of this important ingredient in the processing but now they work hard to maintain an estimated 95 percent of it.
The same cannot be said for milk chocolate and other forms of chocolate. If you find dark chocolate too bitter then consider buying a dark chocolate bar that contains almonds or raisins or both to add a little more variety to the flavor.
photo by Julianne Gentile
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