I love chocolate! I never thought of chocolate as a health food but that is what the science says. Dark chocolate is full of healthy minerals and micronutrients.
Not all chocolates are the same. The least processed chocolates, chocolates without added sugars and chocolates with the highest percentage of cocoa content are the healthiest. Milk chocolate has 10% – 50% cocoa solids compared to the healthier alternative of dark chocolate which has between 50% – 90% cocoa solids. The higher the cocoa content the more health benefits there are. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids a beneficial antioxidant.
Nutrients In Dark Chocolate
- Magnesium – Supports healthy sleep.
- Zinc – Supports healthy immune function.
- Phosphorus – Supports healthy bones and teeth.
- Antioxidant – Flavonoid Epicatechin
- Antioxidant – Polyphenols – Polyphenols lower cortisol (stress hormone) and are anti-inflammatory.
What are flavonoids?
Flavonoids are compounds found in plants that protect cells from damage and fight inflammation. Flavonoids are found in foods and beverages like: apples, cranberries, chocolate, onions, peanuts, tea and red wine. Flavonoids provide protective benefits to plants shielding them from environmental toxins. When we eat plant based foods rich in flavonoids we benefit from these antioxidants protecting our cells and fighting inflammation.
The Kuna Indians rarely develop high blood pressure. A study of their diet revealed that it was customary for the Indians to drink 5 cups of cocoa a day. They also use cocoa in many food recipes. It is only after a Kuna Indian leaves the island and develops a more western diet that high blood pressure becomes an issue.
The Good News: Flavonoid rich foods lower blood pressure and lead to overall better cardiovascular health!
Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Boosts Energy – Dark chocolate contains caffeine. Caffeine helps wake us up and keeps us going throughout the day. Studies have shown that chocolate milk drunk after a work out helps athletes recover quicker.
Lowers Disease Risk – Polyphenols are antioxidants that lower cortisol, reduce inflammation and protect cells making them stronger. This in turn can help the body remain healthy and fight disease.
Improves Heart Health – Lowers blood pressure, decreases risk of stroke and coronary heart disease.
Reduces Stress – Dark chocolate causes feelings of pleasure. Polyphenols are antioxidants that lower the stress hormone cortisol. Chocolate contains tryptophan an essential amino acid that produces serotonin. serotonin and dopamine are our “feel good” hormones.
So there you have it, dark chocolate is good for you! Consume in moderation, I am considering a small taste of chocolate daily, just for the health benefits, of course. But I will try and find a delicious dark chocolate that is 70% cocoa solids or higher.
Please remember all food contains calories and you would not want to lose the health benefits of dark chocolate by consuming so much chocolate you reach an unhealthy weight. Being overweight can raise your blood pressure and your risk for disease.
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Dark chocolate has health benefits! Nutrition has never seemed so sweet! #HealthSurgeon
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