Chocolate – The Health Benefits of Chocolate

Science has confirmed with many studies and research that eating chocolate is indeed healthy. Researchers have found that dark chocolate in particular has both emotional and physical health benefits when consumed in healthy portions. Chocolate has properties that increase mental awareness as well as a multitude of health benefits for our body. Studies have also shown that people who eat two to three chocolate bars a month live longer than those that don’t consume any chocolate.Researchers have found that consuming chocolate increases the dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain indicating that this food has an antidepressant effect. Also, chocolate helps to decrease fat intake by curbing a person’s appetite for fats. In addition, one of the properties of cocoa is that it has the overall effect of decreasing appetite.The chocolate that is most beneficial to our health is dark chocolate. One of the main ingredients of dark chocolate is cacao that contains flavonoids, and these are an excellent source of antioxidants that protect our bodies from the effects of free radicals that can be very damaging.Unfortunately, we are always being threatened by free radicals from the air that we breathe and the different foods that we consume. Eating foods that have plenty of flavonoids also helps our immune system and helps the body fight diseases such as cancer, asthma, allergies, and type2 diabetes.The flavonoids that are found in Cocoa prevent harmful clots from forming that may cause damage to the heart and other areas of the body. These flavonoids also allow increased blood flow by aiding the blood vessels to dilate with ease. In addition, cocoa has properties that aid in the stopping the inflammatory process that can be very damaging to the body.Dark chocolate also helps your heart by helping your vessels retain their flexibility. And, it helps with your body’s blood circulation therefore improving your blood pressure levels. Also, epicatechin, a nutrient found in chocolate, helps to avoid heart attacks and strokes by relaxing and widening our blood vessels.Cocoa is known to reduce cardiovascular problems by increasing the amount of good cholesterol (HDL) in the body. HDL is responsible for cleaning and removing the harmful fats from the body’s blood vessels.In fact, several years ago a study was conducted in Germany with over nine thousand participants, and it revealed that people who ate on an average more than seven grams of chocolate daily had lower risks of stokes and heart attacks, and they also experienced lower blood pressure levels.Cocoa and dark chocolate are also a good source for the fiber needs of our diet. And, believe it or not chocolate hardly contains cholesterol, and if it does it is because of the milk ingredients that are added. Chocolate is a food that is derived from a plant and plants do not produce cholesterol.Source of Vitamins and Minerals Dark chocolate is a great source of vitamins and minerals. It is full of magnesium and iron, and it also contains vitamin B that helps to boost your energy levels. It also contains copper and potassium that are important for maintaining good health.The magnesium levels that are found in a dark chocolate bar typically contain over 12% of the body’s daily requirement. This is important preventing chronic diseases like hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular health problems.HistoryChocolate first appeared in the Mayan and Aztec cultures approximately 4000 years ago. The cacao plant is thought to have originated in the Amazon region and is the main ingredient in chocolate. According to Aztec legend their god Quetzalcoatl gave the cacao tree to the Aztec people. He taught them how to prepare the seeds by roasting and grinding them to form a paste that could be mixed with water. This mixture became known to the Aztec’s as chocotatl and they believed that it provided a person with knowledge and wisdom when consumed.Chocolate was introduced to Spain by the Spanish conquistadores in the 1500s. The Spaniards added different condiments and sweeteners to enhance its flavor. Chocolate was considered a delicacy among the wealthy and became the favorite drink in Europe until it was replaced by coffee and tea in the 19th century.In the twentieth century solid chocolate bars were introduced in Europe. At about this time the cocoa bean was discovered to have beneficial health properties, and that’s when the popularity for chocolate began to surge.Chocolate as Part of Your DietIf you are going to include chocolate as part of your diet, then what is recommended is dark chocolate. Eat the amount that is healthy for your daily nutritional needs. Whether you like your dark chocolate with nuts or just plain, dark chocolate is the best choice. Always try to avoid any fillings in chocolate, such as nougat or caramel, these fillings just add extra calories.The whole purpose of eating pure dark chocolate is for its health benefits aside from its delicious taste. A person should not consume more than three and a half ounces of chocolate per day. This is the recommended amount of chocolate to eat to be on the healthy side.And, just because you are eating chocolate does not mean that you are receiving its healthy benefits. Avoid consuming dark chocolate while drinking milk because this prevents the antioxidants from being absorbed by your body. There are also several types of chocolates that are not healthy for you because they’re loaded with fats and sugar.Here is a list of top quality dark chocolate bars:Dagoba Eclipse – 87% CacaoGreen and Black’s Dark – 85% CacaoValrhona Noir Extra Amer – 85% CacaoScharffen Berger Extra Dark – 82% CacaoChocolove XOXOX Extra Strong Dark – 77% CacaoChocolate is great to eat because of its health benefits and nutritional value, but like everything else if we consume too much of a good thing it can also be bad. So, the next time that you are eating a delicious dark chocolate bar think of all of the health benefits that you are receiving, but just remember to eat with moderation.