Dark Chocolate – Is It Good For You?

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate lovers have a reason to smile. You no longer need to feel guilty about nibbling on chocolate occasionally; in fact, eating a small square of dark chocolate every day can do many wonders for your health. Dark chocolate contains high amounts of fibre, magnesium, iron, manganese and other useful minerals – and that’s just part of the good news. Chocolate is beneficial to your cardiovascular system, brain function and skin health. It also reduces the risk of contracting cancer and improves your mood.

Dark Chocolate Can Lower Blood Pressure and Combat Heart Disease
Dark chocolate is rich in phytochemicals called flavanols which positively influence cardiovascular health. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, dark chocolate reduces the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and reducing the bad kind of cholesterol – LDL cholesterol. Studies have also shown that people who consume dark chocolate are less prone to insulin resistance, a risk factor for diabetes.

As for the fat found in chocolate, this comes from cocoa butter and is made up of oleic acid, stearic and palmitic acid in equal amounts. These are saturated and non-saturated fats which make cocoa butter a good substance.

Eating Chocolate Protects the Skin from Sun-Induced Damage
A study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology showed that dark chocolate which is rich in flavanols confers protection to our skin against damage by ultraviolet rays. Flavanols can do this thanks to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Dark Chocolate Helps Improve Brain Function
Chocolate contains stimulants like theobromine – a caffeine-like substance – which boosts brain function, helps clear our minds and enhances our mood in the short run. Phenethylamine and anandamide are the other substances found in chocolate that help elevate our mood; the former is in fact credited with helping increase libido, while the latter is a neurochemical that fills us with elation.

Not All Types of Chocolate Are Healthy
Unfortunately, not all types of chocolate are healthy. Commercial chocolate which is highly processed has fewer flavonoids which deprive those who consume it of its many benefits. Commercial chocolate, especially milk chocolate, is also often loaded with other unhealthy substances like fats and sugars.

Bottom Line
If you want to get the best out of cocoa, you should take raw, unprocessed cocoa beans, or go for dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content. That said, chocolate should be taken in moderation as it contains a fair amount of calories that can increase your weight.

How Dark Chocolate Fights Cancer, Inflammation, Alzheimer’s and More

Dark Chocolate Fights Cancer

Cocoa boasts a rich history as a luxury beverage that was once consumed by aristocrats in Mesoamerica and Europe. In fact, the word “Theobroma” which comes from the species Theobroma cacao – from which cocoa is extracted – literally means “drink of the gods”.

But cocoa is more than just a luxury beverage. As research continues to uncover more facts about this product, it’s quickly becoming clear is that cocoa is one of the most potent superfoods on earth. The number of health benefits associated with it is simply mind-boggling.

Cocoa Fights Heart Disease and High Blood Pressure
Almost 380 different chemicals with potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects have been isolated from cocoa. These are what give cocoa its remarkable health benefits, especially when it comes to conditions like heart disease. Study after study has shown that cocoa decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease, but also acts in other ways to boost our health. These include lowering blood pressure, increasing dilation of blood vessels, stopping blood clots, and fighting obesity. It also removes the risk of heart attacks and strokes by chemically promoting alertness and reducing stress, while also fighting diabetes by lowering insulin resistance.

Cancer and Dementia
Research has also unearthed cocoa’s cancer-fighting abilities. Studies have shown that polyphenols from the product inhibit the growth of cancer cells, prevent DNA damage responsible for the development of cancer, and even inactivate some types of carcinogenic chemicals.

As for dementia, cancer has been found to counteract this degenerative condition by increasing blood flow to the brain. Cocoa also acts by enhancing cognitive ability and preventing Alzheimer’s disease, leading researchers to believe that cocoa will eventually help treat dementia and stroke.

Cocoa Helps Our Immune System, Oral Health and Eyesight
Beyond prevention of heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s, the benefits of cocoa and cocoa polyphenols have been seen in the way it boosts our immune system. Cocoa helps us recover from exercise, reduces chronic fatigue and fights cataracts related to diabetes. It has also proven to be vital for preventing tooth decay, skin protection and improving our eyesight.

Another great benefit is cocoa is the improvement of digestion by encouraging the development of beneficial microorganisms in our gut.

The list of benefits you stand to gain from consuming chocolate are endless, and research continues to unearth even more advantages of the product by the day. There’s everything to gain and nothing to lose by including a normal amount of dark chocolate in your diet every day.

Hot Chocolate isn’t Just Good for Your Heart, It’s Great for Your Brain Too.

Chocolate For Brain Health

Besides the pleasant flavour and comforting feeling you get from sipping on hot chocolate, this popular beverage has several other benefits, chief among them the positive effect it has on your brain.

According to a study by Harvard Medical School, taking two or more cups of cocoa a day can improve your memory and prevent mental decline among older people.

The Study and Results
Participants in the research, which used 60 subjects, were given two cups of cocoa every day for 30 consecutive days. The 70-something-year-olds were instructed not to take any other chocolate products for the duration of the experiment.

The research was preceded by an MRI evaluation and other mental tests to measure neurovascular coupling (the relationship between blood flow and neural activity) in the brain. By the end of the study, most of the subjects were found to have improved neurovascular coupling. Only five participants showed any mental impairment.

Besides improved blood flow to the brain, there was also a marked improvement in memory retention among the participants. This was proved by the fact that the average time to complete a memory test reduced by 30%.

Effect of Chocolate on Alzheimer’s Disease
A different study found an additional benefit of chocolate to the brain. Apparently, a specially prepared cocoa-extract called Lavado helps to fight Alzheimer’s disease actively. According to a study conducted by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (JAD), “Lavado may reduce damage to nerve pathways seen in Alzheimer’s disease patients’ brains long before they develop symptoms.”

The study used genetically engineered lab mice to mimic Alzheimer’s disease, and out of the three different cocoa extracts that were tested on the mice, Lavado was found to have the greatest impact in countering the disease’s effects thanks to the polyphenol compounds it contains.

Other Benefits of Hot Chocolate
Apart from improving memory and fighting Alzheimer’s as proven by the two studies, consumption of cocoa and dark chocolate comes with other significant health benefits. Dark chocolate has been shown to improve cardiovascular function and to keep the twin problems of diabetes and obesity at bay.

However, for the chocolate consumer to realise the full benefits of cocoa, they must use organic dark chocolate cocoa as opposed to “Dutch” – or wholly processed – cocoa extract.

Two Cups of Hot Chocolate A Day Can Sharpen Your Brain

Chocolate Enhances Memory

Memory loss and dementia are causes for worry among seniors, but a scientific study shows there’s a sweet way to ward off these concerns. How? By drinking hot chocolate daily.

The study published in the Aug. 7 issue of Neurology indicated that older people who drank two cups of hot chocolate daily for a month showed a higher capability of thinking and better memory retention than those who didn’t. Brain scans which showed there was better blood flow in the brain among cocoa-drinkers seemed to corroborate this.

The study author Dr Farzaneh A. Sorond of Harvard Medical School believes the relationship between blood flow and brain activity, called neurovascular coupling, “may play a significant role in diseases such as Alzheimer’s.”

In the experiment 60 adults with an average age of 73 took 2 cups of hot chocolate for 30 consecutive days; all the 60 had been found to be dementia-free from the outset and were directed not to consume other chocolate products while the experiment was ongoing.

The scientists also performed preliminary tests before the experiment began to evaluate the thinking and memory skills of the participants; these were administered using ultrasound technology to measure neurovascular coupling.

The results of the MRI scans showed that nearly one-third of the subjects had impaired neurovascular coupling. The results also revealed the affected participants showed signs of brain damage – linked to restricted blood flow. Incidentally, participants were given a memory speed test before the experiment began; it took them 167 seconds to complete the test.

After the 30 days had elapsed, those who had demonstrated regular neurovascular coupling from the start showed no significant changes in their working memory. However, out of the 18 whose brain activity was impaired, only five remained with impaired neurovascular coupling – a 21% improvement. Likewise, there was a marked improvement in the memory test completion time, from 167 seconds to 116; an impressive 30% change.

The study successfully demonstrated that real cocoa plays a major role in repairing the memory of elderly people by stimulating blood flow to their brain and speeding up their memory capabilities.

The Reasons behind Cocoa’s Positive Effects on Brain Activity

Dark chocolate’s potency is caused by its high polyphenol content, and the presence of flavonols which increase blood flow to the brain, preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia. Antioxidants also go a long way in boosting our immune system.

What it all boils down to is that this sweet, dark and bitter product (when in its natural form) is full of benefits whose effects were only just beginning to see.

Chocolate Is Good For Our Health, and This Is The Reason.

Chocolate Is Good For Health

Chocolate is good for you. The dark kind that is. The one that contains flavonols which are natural substances that reduce the risk of heart disease. Research shows people who include this kind of chocolate in their diets run a lower risk of developing heart complications compared to those who don’t. However, scientists have so far been unable to put their finger on how exactly flavonols affect the human body, specifically the heart.

Recent discoveries made by Virginia Tech and Louisiana State University have a rather odd explanation as to why chocolate is good for you: the fact that it’s indigestible is what makes it work so well for our bodies.

Although research conducted by both Virginia Tech and Louisiana State University concurs that chocolate which contains flavonols is healthy to eat, it doesn’t come out clearly on how exactly the chemical affects the human body. One curious thing to come out of the study is that chocolate improves one’s health mostly by being indigestible.

This conclusion was reached by researchers at Louisiana State after they conducted an experiment using glass vessels to simulate the human digestive system. One vessel represented the stomach and the ilium, while the second resembled the colon, complete with microbes derived from human volunteers. Cocoa powder was then added to the stomach vessels and was absorbed by the “stomach” and “Ilium”.

In the end, some fibre-like remnants of cocoa matter were left after the flavonols had been digested, and these were found to improve cholesterol levels after undergoing fermentation.

These findings concurred with those of a second study conducted by Virginia Tech using lab rats. The experiment demonstrated that, after 12 weeks, lab rats which were fed on unsweetened cocoa extract in the “select” flavonol group didn’t gain weight, while those fed on regular chocolate became obese and diabetic.

Cocoa has an effect on the colon, although it’s hard to explain exactly what that is. One thing we shouldn’t expect though, according to Andrew Neilson of Virginia Tech, is for scientists to come up with a cocoa-based diet pill anytime soon. That’s because the biochemical impacts of cocoa are incredibly complex.