Chocolate lovers rejoice! Chocolate is good for you in oh so many ways. This tasty treat is traditionally associated with celebrations such as Valentine’s Day or Easter. Chocolate is considered by many people to be an aphrodisiac and anti-depressant. Yet many people are blissfully unaware of the additional health benefits they reap from enjoying this delicious superfood.
Unadulterated chocolate from the Theobroma cacao tree is a superfood with amazing health benefits. While over processed chocolate candy can contain nasty additives such as sugar, dairy, saturated fats and preservatives , the real food, cacao is jam packed with nutrients, flavanols, anti inflammatories, anti-oxidants and a plethora of health and immunity boosting benefits. Chocolate has over 300 chemical compounds in it.
What to look for in chocolate
It is important to remember that not all chocolate is created equal. Be sure to look for organic chocolate whenever possible to avoid impurities and toxins from pesticides.
Dark chocolate with less than 6-8 grams of sugar per serving is a great option.
Raw chocolate is also a great choice, as it is less processed.
Benefits of Chocolate
Gingivitis– Oxidative stress affects the progression of periodontitis. Cocoa is a rich source of flavonoids with antioxidant properties, which could suppress gingival oxidative stress in periodontal lesions.
Improved Immunity– Drinking cocoa activates natural immunity and enhances vaccination-induced immune response, providing stronger protection against influenza virus infection and disease onset
Sexual Function– Chocolate is viewed as an aphrodisiac. It is linked to improved virility and fertility.
Heart health benefits-This study found that eating as little as half an ounce of chocolate a week reduced cardiovascular mortality by 50%. In addition, chocolate consumption appears to lower cardiovascular disease risk, in part through reducing BP. The inverse association may be stronger for stroke than for myocardial infarction.
Increase Lifespan-In this fruit fly study, moderate consumption of cocoa increases lifespan.
Metal Chelator-Cocoa acts as a heavy metal chelator.
Reduces Stress-In this study, daily consumption of 40 grams of dark chocolate reduced the urinary excretion of the stress hormone cortisol and catecholamine.
Inhibits Cholesterol Oxidation-This study found that cocoa powder and dark chocolate prevents LDL cholesterol oxidation, while also increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol
Improves Cognitive Performance–Partaking in flavonoid rich foods such as wine and chocolate ( a mere 2 ½ ounces of chocolate) resulted in improved cognitive test results in elderly patients.
Cancer Inhibitor– Although the research is limited this research shows that cocoa is capable of inhibiting prostate cancer.
Liver Cancer-This study shows that cacao liquor has the potential to decrease the severity of chemically induced liver cancer.
Protection Against Tooth Decay– Cocoa butter may provide some protection against tooth decay and dental disease. Studies from England, Japan and the U.S. show that chocolate is effective in fighting cavities, plaque and tooth decay.
Cardiovascular Health-Consumption of cocoa reduced a broad range of risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Diabetes– Insulin resistance was improved by the consumption of cocoa, due to significant reductions in serum insulin. In addition these studies show that dark chocolate may be helpful in type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes.
Improve Liver Enzymes–This study shows that chocolate consumption may improve liver enzymes and protect against insulin resistance.
How to enjoy chocolate
Cacao is available in many forms such as cacao nibs, cacao paste, cacao powder and dark cacao bars. Cacao powder can be added to smoothies, hot milk, homemade candies and desserts. I’ve included a few healthy chocolate recipes to get you started.
Enjoy your chocolate…guilt free!
Chocolate Recipe Links