I've got amazing news for all my fellow chocolate-lovers out there! Did you know that chocolate actually has great health benefits? Unfortunately, this doesn't mean that you now have the excuse to eat as much chocolate as you want though. We're not talking milk chocolate bars, Hershey's, or Snickers. We're talking dark chocolate with small amounts of added sugar.
I don't see a problem with eating a small, 2-oz. piece of dark chocolate a day to satisfy a sweet craving you might have. In fact, I love stocking up on dark chocolate covered almonds and blueberries for when I want a sweet snack.
Cocoa contains small amounts of proteins and healthy fats, it is rich in vitamin B12, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin E, phosphorus, manganese, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron. Dark chocolate also contains powerful antioxidants.
Chocolate has been known to lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL), reducing cardiovascular disease risk. The flavonoids found in chocolate can help protect the brain and nervous system, which can help prevent disorders such as Alzheimer's. Chocolate can also suppress appetite which can prevent overeating.
If you have a cold, raw cocoa contains vitamin C and antioxidants that can help relieve cold symptoms. Pretty cool, huh? The darker the cocoa, the better it will be for you. Dark chocolate can help neutralize the sugar in the blood, helping keep your insulin levels normal; lower blood sugar levels.
My favorite part of chocolate, and probably the reason why women eat chocolate when they need a pick-me-up, is that acts as an antidepressant and reduces stress. The tryptophan found in chocolate has a relaxing effect which can help lower your stress levels.
Finally, the antioxidants in cocoa have shown to regulate blood pressure by increasing nitric oxide levels in the blood. Nitric oxide prevents the blood from becoming thick and sticky. Antioxidants also play a role in helping minimize free radical damage in the body, increased blood flow to the brain (clearer thinking), improved vision, and improved energy levels.
To think that one little, delicious bean could have so many wonderful health benefits in it is pretty cool. Now I want to go and eat some chocolate! Just remember, that these health benefits can only be found in dark chocolate (70-80% cocoa) that has been minimally processed and doesn't contain loads of sugar.
Treat yourself today to some yummy antioxidant-filled chocolate!
Until next time,
P.S. If you would like to see more benefits of chocolate, check out this site: Organic Facts.