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Yes, You Should Eat Chocolate

by Nicole Nutter

organic healthy chocolateLooks like Willy Wonka was onto something with that factory. Studies actually show that eating dark chocolate may assist in improving cardiovascular health. Dark chocolate and cocoa have more natural antioxidants in them than red wine, green tea and blueberries. No more feeling guilty about your love affair with chocolate, but make sure to avoid those candy bars staring at you in the check-out line at the grocery store (they only care about themselves).

Thanks to the cocoa bean, the main ingredient in dark chocolate, you can obtain several benefits that can help to protect your body and promote overall good health. The antioxidants found in chocolate can help reduce the risk of many health conditions including heart disease and even cancer. They also have been shown to support a healthy cardiovascular system, sometimes even reducing blood pressure.

Dr. Mercola acknowledges the benefits of chocolate, and says that “the best chocolate is bitter, not sweet.” In 2008, a study found that specially-formulated raw cocoa powder can benefit diabetics. After one month of consuming a special, high-flavonol cocoa drink, patients’ blood vessel function went from severely impaired to normal. Dr. Mercola adds, “The improvement was similar to the effect of exercise and regular diabetic medications.”

A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry shows that the best types of chocolate to eat are pure cocoa powder, unsweetened baking chocolate, and dark or semi sweet-chocolate. Another study published in the same journal from 2003 focused on the high antioxidant content of raw cocoa powder. Researchers found that one cup of hot cocoa made with pure cocoa powder contains nearly two times the amount of antioxidants in a glass of red wine. They also found that the antioxidant content in the hot cocoa doubled that of green tea, and had four to five times more than black tea. Wow, good on you, chocolate.

We knew chocolate had a massive following of fans, but did you know there are entire websites dedicated to educating people on the healthy aspects of chocolate? Never fear, there are recipe suggestions as well. The allchocolate website is one of these, and has several articles regarding chocolate and your health. They say that the “Natural compounds in cocoa and dark chocolate may help the cardiovascular system by improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure.” Women have been arguing their need of chocolate for years, and now there is scientific evidence to back up their claims (winning!)

Dr. David Katz, an Associate Professor at Yale University, conducted a study in 2005 which recorded the blood pressure of 45 adults before they ate dark chocolate as well as after. Only two hours after ingesting the dark chocolate, subjects’ blood pressure had dropped and their blood flow was improved. Dr. Katz stated, “This clearly suggests that dark chocolate isn’t just good; it’s good for you.” Can I get a Hallelujah? These results and the results of similar studies are exciting for numerous reasons. Improved heart health, stable blood sugar levels, vital minerals like potassium and calcium, and an elevated mood can all be obtained by consuming chocolate.

Sorry Forrest, whether “Life is like a box of chocolates,” or not, now we do know what we’re going to get—a healthier body! So, sit back and reap those delicious-chocolaty benefits, but make sure to do so in moderation (Forrest never said to eat the entire box). There are a lot of studies being done on chocolate’s medicinal effects, the spectrum spans from improving memory to fighting cancer. We are eager to hear the results, and see what other ways this snack from Mother Nature can help us achieve better health.

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