Is dark chocolate good for you? Well, I think you will be surprised at just how much research shows that dark chocolate benefits for health are powerful, numerous and varied. I already had a vague idea that dark chocolate benefits health but when I was reading HEALED: Health & Wellness for the 21st Century, (affiliate link below) I really enjoyed learning the full scoop on exactly what is in dark chocolate that is good for you, and precisely what studies had been done showing that dark chocolate benefits health.
The authors, Dr. Robin Miller and Dave Kahn, are full integrative medicine experts and the writing style in the new book is very approachable and illustrated through real patient experiences. The book provides an innovative approach to what it means to “be well,” by combining cutting edge science,ideas from conventional medicine, and her 33 years of treating patients to establish a new standard to being healthy through solutions made to maximize wellness physically, mentally, and emotionally.
I am happy to say that I have been given permission to share an excerpt from HEALED: Health & Wellness for the 21st Century so you can learn the best dark chocolate health benefits too! The book includes vital information on overcoming depression without drugs, living longer and happier (think coffee and chocolate) and improving your sex life (think Scream Cream). Without further ado, here is more information about dark chocolate benefits.
Why Is Dark Chocolate Good You?
HEALED: Health & Wellness for the 21st Century: Wisdom, Secrets, and Fun Straight From the Leading Edge
Copyright © 2017 by Robin H. Miller, MD, MHS and David Es. Kahn, MS, CPT
All rights reserved.
Excerpt Published With Permission
CHAPTER 8 • FUN FOODS YOU DIDN’T KNOW WERE HEALTHY
Chocolate has a deep and “rich” history. It goes back as far as 1900BC, to Meso america. The Aztecs thought the cacao seeds were a gift from the gods. They believed it was an aphrodisiac and gave strength when consumed.
For those of us in modern times, chocolate is revered for its taste, avoided due to its calories, and has been described as a guilty pleasure. However, for the last several years, chocolate has been touted as a health food. Chocolate contains the following:
• Tryptophan; precursor to serotonin—naturally occurring chemicals that give us a sense of well-being
• Caffeine—a stimulant
• Xanthines—increases wakefulness
• Theobromine—a stimulant that increases blood flow and acts as a cough suppressant
• Anadamide—activates pleasure receptors in the brain
• Pheynlthylamine—stimulates the release of dopamine, associated with feelings of pleasure
• Flavanols—plant or phytonutrients that act as power-ful antioxidants that boost blood flow and act as a mild analgesic (i.e. pain reliever).
The question: Looking at the above ingredients, is chocolate really healthy?
The answer: If eaten in moderation and in its pure form, there are many benefits. Let’s start at the top again.
Dark Chocolate Benefits:
Research at Harvard Medical School found seniors who drank two cups of hot cocoa a day for a month had improved blood flow of the brain and memory. It only worked with chocolate that contained high levels of antioxidants, otherwise known as dark chocolate.19
A Canadian study of over 44,000 people found people who ate chocolate were 22 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those who did not. They were also 46 percent less likely to die as a result.20 Chocolate also makes us feel good. It boosts endorphins and it can create a similar effect to cannabis, but in a small way, because to make a real psychotropic impact an average size person would have to eat 25 pounds. So, the reason it may perk us up and make us happy is probably due to the taste, texture and the overall experience.21
Chocolate lowers the risk of developing heart disease by a full one third in those who eat it regularly. In a study of 21,000 people from Norfolk, England that took place over 11 years, of those who were in the top level of chocolate consumption, 12 percent developed cardiovascular disease compared to 17.4 percent who did not eat chocolate.22
A study of 470 elderly men found cocoa reduced the risk of cardio vascular death by 50 percent over a 15-year period.23 Another study revealed eating chocolate five times a week lowered the risk of disease by 57 percent.24 Yet another study found eating chocolate two or more times a week decreased the risk of calcified plaque in the arteries by 32 percent.25
Chocolate improves some of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. The flavanols in dark chocolate stimulate the lining of blood vessels to relax, and in doing so reduces blood pressure. Cocoa powder decreases LDL cholesterol in men and increases their HDL, or “good” cholesterol.26
The flavanols in chocolate can protect against sun damage of the skin. In a study of 30 people, the time required to develop redness doubled after eating one third of a two-ounce dark chocolate bar every day for 12 weeks.27
AS IF CHOCOLATE ISN’T WONDERFUL ENOUGH …
If you are in a movie, concert or play and feel like you have to cough, Ihave a tip for you. Imentioned earlier chocolate contains theo-bromine which acts as a cough suppressant. If you take a small square of dark chocolate and let it melt on your tongue, it will stop your cough for about an hour. Keep some in your purse or pocket and give it a try the next time you have to fight the urge.
Chocolate in moderation is healthy. It is important to eat a small square (1.5 oz.) with 70 percent organic cocoa or higher. The healing power is in the cocoa content.
19. Sorond et al. 2013
20. Sahib et al. 2010
21. Sunni and Latif 2014
22. Kwok et al. 2014
23. Buijsse et al. 2006
24. Djousse et al. 2011
25. Djousse et al. 2010
26. Galleano et al. 2009.
27. Williams, Tamburic and Lally. 2009
So now you know exactly what is in chocolate that is good for your health and the best dark chocolate health benefits for the heart, the brain, and the skin. Did you know why chocolate is good for your health? Did you realize the dark chocolate benefits were so many? Don’t forget it is important to eat chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa if you want the health benefits!