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Finally some good news for us girls and guys that love chocolate! Apparently in moderation this beautiful creamy cocoa mouthwatering treat actually has health benefits and I for one am not going to argue against that! 😉
The secret weapon in chocolate for boosting our health is the flavonoids content! Super health foods like blueberries, cranberries, strawberries, green tea, coffee and black grapes also have flavonoids but dark chocolate seems to have more of them and therefore can be classed as a food with health benefits. Just a few squares can stave off dementia and other health problems so throw out the guilt and enjoy delicious decadent and oh so good for you chocolate!
Still not convinced? Here are 20 reasons why we should consume chocolate!
1. Well firstly it tastes amazing whatever you do with it. You can freeze it, grate it, melt it, bake it, fry it, mix it with savoury foods etc. There are thousands of recipes online and in books where chocolate is used in all cuisines.
2. It improves brain function. Consuming flavonols (a component of cocoa) regularly improves cognitive function and blood pressure in elderly people.
3. It helps you stay slim and trim. After a study of 1,000 people, it was found that those who ate chocolate a few times a week were on average slimmer than those who only ate it occasionally.
4. It doesn’t make you fat. As long as you’re burning off calories, doing regular exercise (minimum 3 times a week of 45 mins a session) and you’re not eating the entire box of chocolates you won’t gain weight. A few squares a week can be enjoyed guilt free!
5. Combats Stress. Chocolate contains valeric acid, which is a relaxant and tranquiliser. It can help calm you and take away that tension at work.
6. It’s good for the heart. Chocolate lovers are less likely to develop heart disease and strokes and chocolate improves blood pressure and reduces stress, which when combined together reduces the risk of heart attacks. Flavonoids in chocolate also help to stop LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidising, helping to prevent the furring up of arteries.
7. Chocoholics live longer. Researchers at Harvard University studied 8,000 men and those who ate modest amounts of chocolate three times a month lived almost a year longer than those who didn’t eat any at all.
8. It make us happy. Chocolate boosts our mood. The smell of chocolate slows down brain waves, increasing our sense of calm and well being. The pleasure of eating chocolate stimulates the release of endorphins, which boosts our mood. Activities like sport, sex and things that make us happy also release endorphins making us feel better and happier.
9. It boosts concentration. Chocolate has a low GI, which means it gives longer lasting energy and doesn’t raise our blood sugar too quickly. It contains chromium too, which helps control blood sugar. So if you’re having a blood sugar dip and need a bit of energy and a pick me up mid afternoon, try having a square of chocolate.
10. It helps us digest milk. Lactose intolerant patients showed a reduction of bloating, cramping and diarrhoea when one-and-a-half teaspoons of cocoa were added to a cup of milk. Cocoa stimulates lactase enzyme activity, which digests lactose.
11. It boosts appetite. If you are recovering from illness or need to put on a few pounds then eating chocolate will increase your appetite. Chocolate contains cannabinoid-like substances that affect the part of the brain that controls hunger.
12. Chocolate makes you alert. A stimulant theobromine is a caffeine-like substance found in chocolate that will make you more alert without the jittery sides effects of coffee. Theobromine also suppresses coughing by acting on the vagus nerve, which carries messages from the central nervous system to the brain. So chocolate is great for coughs too!
13. It’s a cheap thrill! Eating chocolate will give you pleasure whether you go for an expensive luxurious brand or the average run-of-the-mill type.
14. It’s packed full of antioxidants. Dark chocolate is rich in cell-protecting molecules. Try my delicious Banana Avocado Mousse topped with grated dark chocolate for a real healthy dessert that tastes amazing and is packed full of good fats, energy and antioxidants and is sugar free!
15. It makes a great affordable gift. You can never go wrong with chocolate except if it has nuts in it! I know my brother hates nuts! But everyone loves chocolate, even if they pretend they don’t! 😀
16. It brings people together. Across the world people enjoy chocolate in many forms and styles. Hernando Cortez first brought cocoa to Spain in 1528 from Mexico where Spaniards mixed the beans with sugar and spices. By 1650 the chocolate craze had spread to France where its reputation as an aphrodisiac flourished. People also used to trade with cocoa beans, so it was like a currency. Maybe we could try that with those chocolate coins that appear at Christmas time? Might boost our economies a bit?! At least in the confectionery markets!
17. It’s as good for you as exercise. Researchers experimented on 3 groups of mice and found that when one group were given epitachecin (a chemical derived from cocoa), the second given epitachecin and 30 minutes on a treadmill and the third group just the exercise without the epitachecin, the group that only ate the chemical extract and didn’t do any exercise actually had a higher rise in energy producing mitochondria (a by-product of exercise) than the other two groups who actually had exercise.
18. It doesn’t give you spots. Although some people think they’ll get spots when they eat chocolate, there isn’t actually any evidence to support this claim. There is some evidence that suggests sugar can create spots but not cocoa. So remember the darker the chocolate, the less amount of sugar it contains.
19. You can support ethical fair trade farming. By buying Fair Trade chocolate you can ensure cocoa farmers in third world countries will receive a fair price for their crops.
20. Be a purist. If you want chocolate, have chocolate, but don’t have chocolate cake. You’ll get the intense chocolate flavor, and you won’t be getting the extra calories and unhealthy fats.
So what sort of chocolate is best?
(paragraph taken from axappphealthcare.co.uk)
“Generally, the darker the chocolate the higher the flavonoid content – but it’s not quite as simple as that.
“It’s not a certainty that chocolate stating a higher percentage of cocoa solids contains more flavonoids. This is because a lot depends on the type of cocoa beans used and how they have been processed”.
The higher the temperature at which the beans are roasted and the longer they are fermented, the fewer flavonoids survive. This information is not provided on the pack, although some manufacturers claim to use processing techniques that preserve flavonoids.
“However, it is most likely that you get more flavonoids in a dark chocolate that lists cocoa beans, cacao, chocolate liquor or cocoa mass on its ingredients list, so check the label. Milk chocolate tends to have very few flavonoids and white chocolate none.”
So do you need any more persuasion? I don’t! 20 reasons why chocolate is good for you definitely convinced me and I’m popping out now to buy some delicious dark chocolate from Lindt.
Last points to remember:
Rather than thinking of chocolate as a super-food, regard it as a treat with health benefits. Do not substitute fruit and vegetables for chocolate and eat chocolate in moderation. Remember to have a balanced diet and exercise regularly.