Ah…. The creamy sweet taste of rich dark chocolate. Even thinking on it can make your mouth water. It has recently been proven that certain chocolates have healthful benefits.
Indulging your sweet tooth can be a good thing, if it’s the right type of chocolate. Chocolate has been a favorite of men, women and children since it was first brought to Spain during the early years of exploration. It has been found to contain many of the same benefits found in your darker vegetables such as Spinach, Collard greens and Beets. The anti-oxidants that have become the topic of studies and journal reviews are proving to be effective in stalling the effects of free radicals in the cells of humans. These free radicals are toxins that are contributing factors to heart disease.
Another benefit of the flavonoids found in chocolate is its profound effect on high blood pressure. It has long been known that chocolate had a calming effect on people but it has only just come to the forefront just what this effect can mean for people who are at risk to the effects of high blood pressure. For persons suffering with high blood pressure, a piece of chocolate a day can aid vasodilatation, thus allowing blood to flow more freely throughout the cardiovascular system. The nitric oxide created in the system from chocolate consumption has a positive effect on the circulatory system. However you have to be careful of the level that you allow this free radical to reach, if left unchecked the levels can reach high enough to do more harm than good. Daily consumption in small amounts is believed to have the positive effects that are being studied.
Most people have the idea that chocolate is a European affectation but it was being used by the Mayans and Aztecs for religious ceremonies and currency at least 3000 years before Christopher Columbus brought the first Cocao bean to the continent. The Cacao tree grows only in tropical climates and the beans must be harvested and imported for the manufacture of chocolate as we have come to know it today. Having got its start in the Amazon or Orinoco Basin Chocolate has made its way around the world. It has a rich and varied history. Archaeologist’s have found evidence of Cacao pods in digs that date back to 1500-300 BC. The Mayans are the direct cultural descendants of the Olmec ad as they migrated from the Amazonian Basin to the Mesoamerica plains there is evidence that the Cacao trees was one of the first plantation crops cultivated. At that time consumption of the “Drink” made from the ground beans was restricted to the Mayan élite and high priest. It was not until the 1653 when the brother of then Cardinal Richelieu, Bonavontura Di Argon, started to make recipes with different spices for what he termed ailments of the spleen and digestive system. As you can see chocolate has long been hailed or its medicinal benefits. From the beginning without modern technological proof people instinctual knew that there was more to the bean of the cacao tree than just a good treat.
Fact Vs Fiction
1. Chocolate causes Acne: Oils and toxins that the body is attempting to eliminate being trapped inside the pores is the cause of acne. Chocolate does not.
2. Chocolate is filled with calories and caffeine: 1.5oz of milk chocolate has about as much caffeine as one cup of decaf and only about 200 calories.
3. Chocolate causes tooth decay: again untrue, scientists now believe that certain proteins and minerals found in chocolate actually protect the teeth.
4. Chocolate causes Migraine Headaches: there is very little evidence that show this to be more than a theory.
5. Chocolate is harmful to pets: This is a truth that is best held dear as it can be not only harmful but deadly to pets. Theobromine is a stimulant and will kill a pet if ingested.
An Enhanced Mood
Stress and depression are one of the more common complaints of a vast number of people. The healthy chocolates contain tryptophan an essential amino acid that in combination with B6, B3 and magnesium all have been in cacao. These combine to promote the release of Serotonin in the brain, which is a mood elevator, created by the human brain. Serotonin is a natural antidepressant and can lessen stress levels keeping you calm and relaxed. Though far being the aphrodisiac that has been ascribed to it from years gone by, chocolate does elevate the natural chemicals found in the brain that keep you from being stressed out
The Healthy Chocolate
While all chocolates are good to you only one is actually the best one for health purposes. The various studies done to discover exactly what health benefits if any could be found in chocolate were done using raw, unprocessed cocoa powders. This is chocolate that is made into bars without the use of a chemical and heat process.
Milk chocolate has few benefits and white chocolate has none at all. The truly healthy chocolate is the dark unsweetened or bittersweet chocolates. They generally come in squares and it is advised that consuming one square a day could provide the benefits you seek.
Adding chocolate to your diet to take advantage of the health benefits it offers is a balancing act to be sure. The studies mostly used 3.50 Oz per day but a regular dark chocolate bar contains 400 calories. If you add a half bar a day to your diet you will have to summarily cut 200 calories a day from another source.
A lot of people like to wash their chocolate down with an ice-cold glass of milk, while this is certainly yummy it could negate the purpose of eating the chocolate in the first place. Milk is believed to block the absorption of the beneficial antioxidants found in the chocolate.
Chocolate is here to stay. It is great to know that a favorite source of pleasurable eating can also be a way to get and stay healthy. It is worthwhile to note that you can eat or drink your daily source of antioxidants for a happier healthier you. For further information on the benefits of chocolate you may want to keep an eye on this page. Chocolate lovers have a lot to brag about now that the word is out.