If you have always been warned about the pitfalls of this tasty treat then it is time to think again- chocolate and good health are connected.
What, are you believing this?! Chocolate could actually be good for you! Whoo hoo!
This is amazing news for chocolate lovers everywhere! Research studies have proven that chocolate can benefit the heart. Some studies even go so far as to suggest that chocolate can work in the same capacity as aspirin when it comes to preventing heart attacks and reducing blood clots.
It is important to stop here before you get too excited and let you know that the health benefits of chocolate extend only to dark chocolate and not to milk chocolate. Dark chocolate has more of a bitter “grown-up” taste to it than milk chocolate but can be equally as tasty (and no longer is it a sinful treat to indulge in!).
Before we proceed further with the discussion of dark chocolate’s benefits, bear in mind that chocolate is still chocked full of fat and sugar and therefore should always be eaten in small quantities, and should not become a daily habit!
Studies and Research Findings
For the past 20 years it has long been recognized by scientists that dark chocolate is rich in a chemical known as flavonoid. It is this very special ingredient that helps to lower blood pressure as well as increase the flow of blood from the heart to the brain. Flavonoids contain a compound known as epicatechin. It is epicatechin that is instrumental in preventing cholesterol from building up in the blood vessels. It also helps to reduce the responses from the immune system that can then lead to the clogging of the arteries.
Early studies into the benefits of dark chocolate showed that a high percentage would have to be consumed daily in order for it to be of benefit to the heart. However researchers now say that a few small pieces of dark chocolate (which could equal a few squares from a chocolate bar) can be useful in terms of the health of your heart.
Researchers have delved even further into the dark chocolate and heart connection. What they have discovered is quite amazing. The chemical found in the cocoa bean has a biochemical effect that greatly resembles the effect that aspirin has in reducing the clumping of platelets in the blood that can prove deadly if a clot forms and then narrows or even worse, completely blocks a blood vessel, leading to a heart attack
Heart Healthy Chocolate Consumption
Some studies suggest that to effectively get the beneficial heart healthy effects of eating dark chocolate it is advisable to consume two tablespoons of dark chocolate on a daily basis. The best kind would be the purest form such as dried extract of roasted cocoa beans. If that is not for you, then a small bar of chocolate in the area of 1.6 ounces is another option to keep your heart and your blood vessels functioning at their optimum best. One example of a dark chocolate bar chocked full of high-cocoa content (which means it is loaded with flavonoids) is the Dove Dark Chocolate bar. However other brands such as Cadbury or Hershey can yield benefits as well.
The reason that dark chocolate is better than milk chocolate in respect to your heart is because of the manufacturing process it goes through. Dark chocolate is processed differently than milk chocolate and has much higher levels of flavonoids in it than does the latter. The flavonoids are destroyed during the process of making milk chocolate.
You may have heard the word flavonoids in relation to other foods such as black tea, green tea, blueberries and red wine. While flavonoids can be found in these foods, they are much more plentiful in dark chocolate.
In small quantities chocolate is good for your health. It can lead to a healthier and better functioning heart. If that is not something to smile about then I don’t know what is!