Saturday, February 27, 2010

Can Dark Chocolate be Healthy?

Yes, chocolate is derived from plants, which contains flavonoids. These flavonoids are most commonly known for their antioxidant properties. As in the dark vegetables, it can help protect the body from free radicals. Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants, nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries. Other berries that contain high amounts of flavonoids include blueberries, red beans, cranberries, and blackberries. There are beverages also rich in flavonoids such as red wine and certain teas.

Recent research indicates that flavonoids can biologically trigger enzymes that fight disease. A small bar of dark chocolate everyday is good for heart disease. It can help lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Dark chocolate has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent. It can also reduce the risk of certain cancers, and age-related degenerative diseases. Just when you thought it could not get any better some studies even show that dark chocolate may help prevent tooth decay.

Other benefits of dark chocolate, besides it’s great tastes, is that it stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure. It also contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant, plus it contains theobromine, caffeine and other substances which are stimulants that will give you energy.

You might be thinking what about the fat that is in chocolate, that can’t be good for you. Well the good news is that 2 out of the 3 fats found in chocolate are not bad for you. The first fat is Oleic Acid which is a healthy monounsaturated fat, this is also found in olive oil. The next fat has a neutral effect on the cholesterol, which is a Stearic Acid, a saturated fat. Finally, the only bad fat that is found is Palmitic Acid, this contains saturated fat. So 2 out 3 aren’t bad.

Chocolate is still a high-calorie and a high-fat food so you can’t eat a lot of it, but studies show no more than 100 grams, or about 3.5 ounces, of dark chocolate a day will give benefits. So keep your chocolate consumption to about 200 calories each day. Remember it is the pure dark chocolate that has the health benefits, not the white or milk chocolate. Defiantly avoid chocolate with nuts, caramel, nougat, orange peel or other flavorings.

Now you can eat a little dark chocolate guilt free.