Dark chocolate — A rich and tasty source of Vitamin D


https://speciality.medicaldialogues.in/dark-chocolate-a-rich-and-tasty-source-of-vitamin-d/

Dark Chocolate Reduces Stress and Inflammation, Boosts Memory and Mood


Story at-a-glance

  • When it comes to chocolate, its cacao content — which is bitter, not sweet — the amount of sugar added, and the processing chocolate undergoes, makes a huge difference in terms of whether it has any health benefits
  • Raw cacao gets its bitter taste from the polyphenols present, and these plant compounds are also responsible for most of the health benefits associated with dark chocolate
  • The cacao bean contains hundreds of naturally occurring compounds, including epicatechin, resveratrol — two powerful antioxidants — phenylethylamine (which boosts mood) and theobromine, which has effects similar to that of caffeine
  • Human trial data reveal chocolate helps improve stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory and immune function, but it must contain at least 70 percent cacao and be sweetened with organic cane sugar
  • A number of other studies have confirmed cacao can benefit your heart, blood vessels, brain and nervous system, and helps combat diabetes and other conditions rooted in inflammation

By Dr. Mercola

Throughout its history, which dates back at least 4,000 years,1 chocolate has been a symbol of luxury, wealth and power. During the 14th century, the Aztecs and Maya even used cacao beans as currency. Modern research has also revealed chocolate has significant health benefits — provided you’re willing to give up the now-familiar sweetness of modern day milk chocolate.

Its cacao content — which is bitter, not sweet — the amount of sugar added, and the processing chocolate undergoes, makes a huge difference in terms of whether it has any health benefits. Raw cacao gets its bitter taste from the polyphenols present, and these plant compounds are also responsible for most of the health benefits associated with dark chocolate. Milk chocolate, on the other hand, has few, if any, redeeming qualities, as it is loaded with sugar, containing very low amounts of flavonol-rich cacao.

Cocoa Contains Hundreds of Health Promoting Chemicals

The cacao bean contains hundreds of naturally occurring compounds with known health benefits, including epicatechin (a flavonoid) and resveratrol, the former of which has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and is thought to help shield your nerve cells from damage.

Norman Hollenberg, a professor of medicine at Harvard who has spent years studying the Kuna people of Panama who consume up to 40 cups of cocoa a week, believes epicatechin is so important it should be considered a vitamin.2 The Kuna have less than a 10 percent risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes, which are the most prevalent diseases ravaging the Western world.3 Kuna elders also have very low rates of high blood pressure, a feature attributed to their high cocoa consumption.

Resveratrol, a potent sirtuin activator, is known for its neuroprotective effects and has been linked in many recent studies to work synergistically with NAD to increase longevity. It has the ability to cross your blood-brain barrier, which allows it to moderate inflammation in your central nervous system (CNS). This is significant because CNS inflammation plays an important role in the development of neurodegenerative diseases.

Research also shows resveratrol is an exercise mimetic, producing similar mitochondrial benefits as exercise by stimulating AMPK and PKC-1alpha, which increase mitochondrial biogenesis and mitophagy. Another compound found in cacao is phenylethylamine, which has been shown to boost mood in a way similar to that of tryptophan, which your body converts to serotonin.

Theobromine, meanwhile, has effects similar to that of caffeine, but without the jitteriness. Cacao is also rich in important minerals such as magnesium, which promotes muscle relaxation and is needed for bone health, iron for red blood cell production, and zinc, needed for cell renewal.

Just be careful and avoid the mistake I made. I assumed since cacao is so wonderful you can take it every day without a break. I used raw cacao nibs in my smoothie for the better part of a year and developed a sensitivity to it. It is best to take a few days off a week so you don’t develop a sensitivity.

Dark Chocolate Supports Brain Health

Most recently, human trial data from Loma Linda University, presented at the Experimental Biology 2018 annual meeting in San Diego, reveal chocolate helps improve stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory and immune function. The caveat? It has to contain at least 70 percent cacao and be sweetened with organic cane sugar. According to Loma Linda University:4

“While it is well-known that cacao is a major source of flavonoids, this is the first time the effect has been studied in human subjects to determine how it can support cognitive, endocrine and cardiovascular health … These studies show us that the higher the concentration of cacao, the more positive the impact on cognition, memory, mood, immunity and other beneficial effects.”

In the first study, 70 percent cacao chocolate consumption was associated with upregulation of several intracellular signaling pathways that are involved in the activation of T-cells, the cellular immune response, and genes involved in the signaling between brain cells and sensory perception. In other words, not only was it found to improve immune function, but dark chocolate may also boost brain plasticity, improving your ability to learn, process and remember new information.

In the second study, which used 70 percent organic cacao chocolate, they assessed the brain’s response to eating 48 grams of dark chocolate using electroencephalography (EEG); first 30 minutes after, and then two hours after. As in the first trial, the dark chocolate was found to enhance neuroplasticity.

Bitter Chocolate Is a Sweet Treat for Your Heart

A number of other studies have confirmed cacao can benefit your heart, blood vessels, brain and nervous system, and helps combat diabetes and other conditions rooted in inflammation. As noted in a paper5 published in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity:

“Cocoa contains about 380 known chemicals, 10 of which are psychoactive compounds … Cocoa has more phenolics and higher antioxidant capacity than green tea, black tea, or red wine … The phenolics from cocoa may … protect against diseases in which oxidative stress is implicated as a causal or contributing factor, such as cancer. They also have antiproliferative, antimutagenic, and chemoprotective effects, in addition to their anticariogenic effects.”

One 2012 meta-analysis6 found that eating chocolate could slash your risk of cardiovascular disease by 37 percent and your stroke risk by 29 percent. Another meta-analysis7 published that same year found that cocoa/chocolate lowered insulin resistance, reduced blood pressure, increased blood vessel elasticity, and slightly reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

A 2015 study8 published in the journal Heart — which also included a systematic review of nine other studies — also found a correlation between chocolate consumption and a lower risk for cardiac events and stroke. The initial analysis included data from nearly 21,000 men and women and had a median follow-up of nearly 12 years. According to the authors:

“The percentage of participants with coronary heart disease (CHD) in the highest and lowest quintile of chocolate consumption was 9.7 percent and 13.8 percent, and the respective rates for stroke were 3.1 percent and 5.4 percent … A total of nine studies with 157 809 participants were included in the meta-analysis.

Higher compared to lower chocolate consumption was associated with significantly lower CHD risk … stroke … composite cardiovascular adverse outcome … and cardiovascular mortality …

Cumulative evidence suggests that higher chocolate intake is associated with a lower risk of future cardiovascular events, although residual confounding cannot be excluded. There does not appear to be any evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about cardiovascular risk.”

Flavonol-Rich Foods Can Be Beneficial for Diabetics

Polyphenol-rich cacao can also be beneficial for diabetics. In one study,9 patients consuming 100 grams of dark chocolate for 15 days showed decreased insulin resistance. In another, high-flavonol instant cocoa powder was found to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in diabetics when consumed three times a day.10 After one month, their blood vessel function was brought from severely impaired to normal.

In fact, the improvement “was as large as has been observed with exercise and many common diabetic medications,” according to the authors, who believe the vascular improvement is largely caused by increased production of nitric oxide, which relaxes your blood vessels. It’s worth noting that the cocoa beverage used here contained much higher amounts of flavonols (321 milligrams per serving) than what you’ll find in your local grocery store.

As noted by lead author Malte Kelm, professor and chairman of cardiology, pulmonology and vascular medicine at the University Hospital Aachen in Germany, “The take-home message of the study is not that people with diabetes should guzzle cocoa but, rather, that dietary flavanols hold promise as a way to prevent heart disease.”11

“Patients with Type 2 diabetes can certainly find ways to fit chocolate into a healthy lifestyle, but this study is not about chocolate, and it’s not about urging those with diabetes to eat more chocolate. This research focuses on what’s at the true heart of the discussion on ‘healthy chocolate’ — it’s about cocoa flavanols, the naturally occurring compounds in cocoa.

While more research is needed, our results demonstrate that dietary flavanols might have an important impact as part of a healthy diet in the prevention of cardiovascular complications in diabetic patients.”

Cocoa Benefits Mood

As mentioned, cocoa also contains chemical compounds shown to boost mood. One study,12 published in 2013, found the polyphenols in cocoa (a dark chocolate drink mix) helped reduce anxiety and induce a sense of calm when consumed daily for one month.

Participants received a cocoa drink standardized to contain either 500 milligrams or 250 milligrams of polyphenols, or a placebo drink with no polyphenol content. After 30 days, those receiving the highest dose reported significantly increased calmness and centeredness, compared to the placebo group. Those receiving the lower dose (250 milligrams) did not experience any significant effects.

The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Chocolate

While there’s plenty of science vouching for the health benefits of dark chocolate, it’s important to realize that none of these benefits are transferable to milk chocolate, which is what most people crave. As a general rule, the darker the chocolate, meaning the more cacao it contains, the more flavanols it contains, and this is the primary source of its health benefits.

Milk chocolate, which is low in cacao and high in milk and sugar, has little redeeming value and will only promote insulin resistance and related ailments. Additionally, the standard manufacturing process of milk chocolate destroys about one-quarter to one-half of the available antioxidants, thereby diminishing its benefits even further.

So, while you’d be better off getting your antioxidants from fruits, berries and vegetables, should you decide to indulge in chocolate, I recommend restricting your intake to dark, organic chocolate, which contains the most flavanols, and avoid milk chocolate. Your best option would be raw cacao nibs, which are relatively bitter since they contain no added sugar.

Additionally, consume chocolate in moderation, even the dark kind, and avoid even dark chocolate if you’re struggling with serious disease such as cancer, which feeds on sugars.

How Cocoa Beans Are Transformed Into Chocolate

Last but not least, you may be curious as to how chocolate is made. The International Cocoa Organization offers the following summary of the 14-step process required to turn cacao beans into a mouth-savoring treat:13

Step 1. The cacao beans are cleaned to remove all extraneous material.
Step 2. To bring out the chocolate flavor and color, the beans are roasted. The temperature, time and degree of moisture involved in roasting depend on the type of beans used and the sort of chocolate or product desired.
Step 3. A winnowing machine is used to remove the shells from the beans to leave just the cocoa nibs.
Step 4. The cocoa nibs undergo alkalization, usually with potassium carbonate, to develop the flavor and color.
Step 5. The nibs are then milled to create cocoa liquor (cocoa particles suspended in cocoa butter). The temperature and degree of milling varies according to the type of nib used and the final product being made.
Step 6. Manufacturers generally use more than one type of bean in their products and therefore the different beans have to be blended together to the required formula.
Step 7. The cocoa liquor is pressed to extract the cocoa butter, leaving a solid mass called cocoa presscake. The amount of butter extracted from the liquor is controlled by the manufacturer to produce presscake with different proportions of fat.
Step 8. The processing now takes two different directions: The cocoa butter is used in the manufacture of chocolate, while the cocoa presscake is broken into small pieces to form kibbled presscake, which is then pulverized to form cocoa powder.
Step 9. Cocoa liquor is used to produce chocolate through the addition of cocoa butter. Other ingredients such as sugar, milk, emulsifying agents and cocoa butter equivalents are also added and mixed. The proportions of the different ingredients depend on the type of chocolate being made.
Step 10. The mixture then undergoes a refining process by traveling through a series of rollers until a smooth paste is formed. Refining improves the texture of the chocolate.
Step 11. The next process, conching, further develops flavor and texture. Conching is a kneading or smoothing process. The speed, duration and temperature of the kneading affect the flavor. An alternative to conching is an emulsifying process using a machine that works like an egg beater.
Step 12. The mixture is then tempered or passed through a heating, cooling and reheating process. This prevents discoloration and fat bloom in the product by preventing certain crystalline formations of cocoa butter developing.
Step 13. The mixture is then put into molds or used for enrobing fillings and cooled in a cooling chamber.
Step 14. Lastly, the chocolate is packaged for distribution.

 

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Chocolate Trumps Fluoride in the Fight Against Tooth Decay


Imagine using chocolate to remineralize tooth enamel while discouraging cavities. Sound too good to be true? A researcher at Tulane University has come close with a non-toxic chocolate extract that outperforms fluoride. Taking into account the dangers associated with fluoride, and its presence in commercial toothpastes, a chocolate-based replacement offers a palatable solution.

Poison on the tip of your toothbrush

Fluoride has come under scrutiny over the years — and rightly so. Found in toothpaste, as well as our water supply, this industrial waste has been classified as “the most damaging environmental pollutant of the Cold War” by author Christopher Bryson, who wrote The Fluoride Deception. Linked with decreased thyroid and kidney function, endocrine disruption, infertility, lowered intelligence, cardiovascular disease, weak bones and increased cancer risk, fluoride is exceptionally harmful. (See: 15 Facts Most People Don’t Know About Fluoride.)

Moreover, the Fluoride Action Network calls attention to the fact that “just one… gram of fluoride toothpaste (a full strip of paste on a regular-sized brush) is sufficient to cause acute fluoride toxicity in [a] two-year old child (e.g., nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhea).”

Fortunately, we have an alternative to such toxic madness — in the surprising form of chocolate.

Food of the gods, a boon for teeth

Arman Sadeghpour, a doctoral candidate at Tulane University, discovered an unlikely player in the fight against tooth decay — an extract derived from the cacao bean. Using leftover human molars, he applied either fluoride or cocoa extract. Next, the teeth were placed in a specialized machine which pressed an indentation into each tooth. The depth of the depression indicates the hardness of the enamel. Sadeghpour observed that the teeth treated with cocoa extract were more resilient than those where fluoride was used.

In a second test, each tooth was left overnight in a solution of either fluoride or cocoa extract. The following day, Sadeghpour subjected the tooth surface to strong acid for 10 minutes. When he measured the amount of calcium that had leached into the acid, he found that the teeth soaked in cocoa extract had lost 8 percent less calcium than their fluoride counterparts.

According to a press release by the university,

The extract, a white crystalline powder whose chemical makeup is similar to caffeine, helps harden teeth enamel, making users less susceptible to tooth decay. The cocoa extract could offer the first major innovation to commercial toothpaste since manufacturers began adding fluoride to toothpaste in 1914.

Dark chocolate and green tea is the perfect concentration combination.


A new study, the first of its kind, has found that dark chocolate and green tea could be the ideal combination to tackle that mid-afternoon slump

Chocolate - Diana Henry food recipes baked goodies

Chocolate with more than 60pc cacao content is classed as dark chocolate

Need an afternoon pick-me-up? Step away from the coffee.

Dark chocolate and green tea could be the best combination for an energy boost, a new study has found, and it could be the next product Hershey’s introduces to the market.

In a scientific study sponsored by Hershey Company, researchers at Northern Arizona University tested the mental responses of participants who ate chocolate of various levels of cacao content.

Participants who ate chocolate with 60pc cacao – considered to be the minimum level of cacao to count as dark chocolate – were more alert and attentive, but their blood pressure also increased.

However, the research found that those who consumed dark chocolate with the amino acid L-theanine, which is a relaxant found in green tea, experienced an immediate drop in blood pressure.

“It’s remarkable,” said Larry Stevens, a professor of psychological sciences at NAU who conducted the study. ”The potential here is for a heart healthy chocolate confection that contains a high level of cacao with L-theanine that is good for your heart, lowers blood pressure and helps you pay attention.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The study, which was published in the journal NeuroRegulation, claims to be the first of its kind to examine chocolate’s effects on “attentional characteristics of the brain” and to be conducted using EEG technology, which measures the brain’s responses to certain stimulants by taking images.

Professor Stevens said that the dark chocolate and green tea combination is not currently available on the market, but he added that it is “of interest” to Hershey and the researchers.

Dark chocolate of various intensities, from 60pc to 100pc cacao content, can be purchased at almost any retailer. Milk chocolate bars have less cacao and more sugar: Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, for example, has around 26pc cocoa solids, but the nutritional information shows 57.3g of sugar per 100g.

The study tested the effects of dark chocolate and five control conditions on 122 participants between the ages of 18 and 25 years old.

The results follow a recent study, which found that dark chocolate and green tea, along with red wine and a variety of other ingredients, could help boost weight loss.

Bar of dark chocolate a day boosts athletic performance, say sports scientists


Eating a bar of chocolate a day might not seem the obvious diet for athletic greatness, but a new study shows it can significantly boost performance.

Scientists at London’s Kingston University asked nine amateur cyclists to eat a 40g bar of dark chocolate each day for two weeks and then measured their performance.

Compared with their baseline scores, dark chocolate consumption increased the distance they were able to travel in a two minute sprint by 17 per cent, or 518 feet (158 m).

The effect was also found to be 13 per cent greater than white chocolate suggesting it is not just the extra calories which are causing the effect.

The team believe that substance called epicatechin – a type of flavanol found in the cacao bean, that also increases nitric oxide production in the body. This dilates blood vessels and reduces oxygen consumption – allowing athletes to go further for longer.

“We found that people could effectively exercise for longer after eating dark chocolate –something that’s not been established before in this way,” said postgraduate research student Rishikesh Kankesh Patel who led the study.

Tests also showed that the cyclists used less oxygen during moderate cycling.

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Endurance athletes could eat chocolate to boost performance

Mr Patel said the results opened the door for more research which could eventually lead to dark chocolate becoming a staple part of endurance athletes’ diets.

Now the team is hoping to investigate how quickly the effect can be achieved and how long it will last.

Dr Owen Spendiff, of the sport performance laboratory said: “We want to see whether the boost in performance is a short term effect – you eat a bar and within a day it works – or whether it takes slightly longer, which is what the initial research is showing.

“Rishikesh’s findings are really interesting, as he has proven the exercise benefits of dark chocolate for the first time.”

The benefits appear to be similar to beetroot juice which is widely used by endurance athletes.

Kingston sport analysis lecturer James Brouner said: “From a performance perspective, making an athlete more efficient can have major advantages in long duration steady-state exercise.”

“With so many athletes consuming beetroot juice to achieve this gain but complaining of the palatability, dark chocolate could have a similar effect but with the additional benefit of tasting good too.

“When performing endurance-based activity, being as economical as possible in energy provision is key to enhancing your performance. From our results, the consumption of dark chocolate has altered the participants’ response to the activity and therefore could enhance their endurance performance.”

The Amazing Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate


Story at-a-glance

  • Cacao’s health benefits are related to natural compounds in the bean, including epicatechin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and resveratrol, known for its neuroprotective effects
  • When selecting chocolate, look for higher cacao and lower sugar content. Your best bet is raw cacao nibs, which can be eaten whole or ground into powder for use in recipes
  • Many studies have confirmed that cacao can benefit your heart, blood vessels, brain, nervous system, and helps combat diabetes and other conditions rooted in inflammation

Of all the treats available, chocolate is one of the most craved foods in the world. The first solid chocolate bar, made from cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar, was introduced by the British chocolate company J.S. Fry & Sons in 1847, but the history of chocolate goes back at least 4,000 years.1

Pre-Olmec cultures in Mexico produced chocolate as early as 1900 B.C. Originally, it was consumed as a bitter beverage. The cacao beans were fermented, roasted, and then ground into a paste that was mixed with water and spices like chili peppers and vanilla, sweetened with honey.

Throughout its history, chocolate — “the food of the Gods” — has remained a symbol of luxury, wealth, and power. During the 14th century, the Aztecs and Mayans even used cacao beans as currency.

Research has also revealed chocolate has some rather impressive health benefits, provided you’re willing to give up the now-familiar sweetness of modern day milk chocolate.

The Olmecs, Mayans, and Aztecs valued cacao for its mood enhancing and aphrodisiac properties, and it was typically reserved for the ruling class.

In the 17th century, cocoa and chocolate were considered potential medicine, and historical documents in Europe reveal they were used to treat angina and heart pain.2

Not All Chocolate Is Created Equal

Raw cacao is actually quite bitter, not sweet, due to the nearly 400 polyphenols that are present. When we’re referring to the health benefits of chocolate, this is the chocolate we’re referring to. Americans consume an estimated 12 pounds of chocolate per capita each year.3

Unfortunately, the vast majority of that is in the form of milk chocolate candy, which contains very minute amounts of healthy cacao, and loads of sugar. The milk added to milk chocolate can also interfere with your body’s ability to absorb the beneficial antioxidants (polyphenols) in the chocolate.

Chocolate Terminology

To get off on the right foot, it may be helpful to understand the distinction between cacao, cocoa, and chocolate:4

• Cacao: Refers to the plant, a small evergreen tree of the species Theobroma cacao, and its dried seeds, also known as cacao beans or cocoa beans, prior to processing.

If you’re after health benefits, raw cacao nibs are what you’re looking for. Ideally, buy them whole and grind them yourself (a coffee grinder can be used for this) when using it in recipes.

Alternatively, you can eat them whole, just like you’d eat conventional chocolate chips. A healthy amount would probably be around ½ to 1 ounce per day. I personally grind 1 tablespoon of raw cacao nibs twice a day and put them into my smoothies.

• Cocoa: Refers to the roasted cacao, ground into a powder from which most of the fat has been removed.

• Cocoa butter: The fat component of the cacao seed.

• Chocolate: The solid food or candy made from a preparation of roasted cacao seeds; if the cacao seeds are not roasted, then you have “raw chocolate.”

When selecting chocolate, look for higher cacao and lower sugar content. In general, the darker the chocolate, the higher the cacao content.

However, since cacao is bitter, the higher the percentage cacao, the more bitter it is (the polyphenols are what make the chocolate bitter, so manufacturers often remove them. But, it’s those polyphenols that are responsible for many of chocolate’s health benefits).

To counteract the bitterness, most chocolate is sweetened, so it’s a matter of balancing nutritional benefit with palatability. For health benefits, choose chocolate with a cacao percentage of about 70 or higher.

• “White chocolate” contains no cocoa at all; it’s just a health-zapping mix of pasteurized milk and sugar.

Cocoa Contains Hundreds of Health-Promoting Chemicals

Cacao’s benefits are related to naturally occurring compounds in the bean, including epicatechin (a flavonoid) and resveratrol, the former of which has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and is thought to help shield your nerve cells from damage.

Resveratrol, a potent antioxidant, is known for its neuroprotective effects. It has the ability to cross your blood-brain barrier, which allows it to moderate inflammation in your central nervous system (CNS).

This is significant because CNS inflammation plays an important role in the development of neurodegenerative diseases.

Recent science also shows resveratrol is an exercise mimic and produces similar benefits as exercise to the mitochondria by stimulating AMPK and PKC-1alpha which increase mitochondrial biogenesis and mitophagy.

Norman Hollenberg, a professor of medicine at Harvard who has spent years studying the Kuna people of Panama (who consume up to 40 cups of cocoa a week), believes epicatechin is so important it should be considered a vitamin.5

The Kuna have less than a 10 percent risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes, which are the most prevalent diseases ravaging the Western world.6

Indeed, many studies have confirmed that cacao can benefit your heart, blood vessels, brain, nervous system, and helps combat diabetes and other conditions rooted in inflammation.

One 2012 meta-analysis7 found that eating chocolate could slash your risk of cardiovascular disease by 37 percent and your stroke risk by 29 percent.

Another meta-analysis8 published that same year found that cocoa/chocolate lowered insulin resistance, reduced blood pressure, increased blood vessel elasticity, and slightly reduced LDL.

In one study,9 patients consuming 100 grams of flavanol-rich dark chocolate for 15 days showed decreased insulin resistance.

According to a paper10,11 published in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, cocoa polyphenols may have specific benefits for cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, metabolic disorders, and cancer prevention. The authors note that:

“Cocoa contains about 380 known chemicals, 10 of which are psychoactive compounds … Cocoa has more phenolics and higher antioxidant capacity than green tea, black tea, or red wine … The phenolics from cocoa may … protect against diseases in which oxidative stress is implicated as a causal or contributing factor, such as cancer.

They also have antiproliferative, antimutagenic, and chemoprotective effects, in addition to their anticariogenic effects.”

Chocolate and Human Health

A 2013 paper12 in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine also reviews the many health benefits of cacao, noting that many consider it a “complete food,” as it contains:

  • Healthy fats
  • Antioxidants
  • Nitrogenous compounds, including proteins, methylxanthines theobromine, and caffeine (central nervous system stimulants, diuretics, and smooth muscle relaxants. Theobromine is the ingredient that can cause heartburn in some individuals; on the other hand, it also inhibits persistent cough by reducing vagus nerve activity13)
  • Minerals, including potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, and magnesium
  • Valeric acid (which acts as a stress reducer despite the presence of stimulants)

The following table highlights the wide range of positive health benefits science suggests are conferred by the cocoa bean.14,15,16

Anti-inflammatory17(including 17 percent reduction in C-reactive protein) Anti-carcinogenic18 Anti-thrombotic,19 including improving endothelial function20 Neuroprotective benefits and lowered Alzheimer’s risk21
Anti-diabetic22 Anti-obesity effects, possibly due to the polyphenols’ ability to suppress fatty acid synthesis while stimulating cell energy expenditure in the mitochondria23 Cardioprotective,24including lowering blood pressure,25 improving lipid profile, and helping prevent atrial fibrillation26 Improved liver function for those with cirrhosis27
Improves skin condition, and protection against UV damage28 Improves gastrointestinal flora29 Reduces stress hormones Protects vision,30 and reduces symptoms of glaucoma31 and diabetes-induced cataracts32
Slows progression of periodontitis33 Improves exercise endurance34 May help extend lifespan35 Protects against preeclampsia in pregnant women36

Processing Destroys Many Valuable Nutrients

As noted in the Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity paper,37 the nutrients found in raw cacao are easily altered and destroyed through processing. The bitterness of raw cacao beans is due to their high concentration of polyphenols.

To some people, cacao is virtually inedible because of its bitterness. To make it more palatable, chocolate manufacturers decrease the polyphenol content, and as a result you can find products containing anywhere from 10 to 100 percent polyphenols.

In dried fresh cacao beans, the total polyphenol content is around 15 to 20 percent, whereas fermented, non-defatted beans contain just 5 percent. The reason for this is because the fermentation process reduces epicatechin and soluble polyphenol content by as much as 20 percent; anthocyanidins are removed altogether, and procyanidins are decreased by as much as 500 percent.

The phenolic content of cocoa also varies depending on its origin. For example, Costa Rican cocoa contains more than 16.5 milligrams (mg) of catechins per gram (g), whereas Jamaican cocoa contains less than 2.7 mg per gram.

Apples May Boost Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Many real foods, eaten as close to their natural state as possible, can be considered “superfoods.” This applies to dark chocolate as well. Interestingly, certain superfoods produce great synergy when combined,38 meaning the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. When eaten in combination, the two foods become even healthier than eating them separately, on their own.

Eating apples is associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease, an association thought to be related to their antioxidant flavonoid content,39 including the anti-inflammatory quercetin. As noted earlier, dark chocolate, which is rich in antioxidant catechins, has also been found to support heart health. When paired, dark chocolate and apples have been shown to break up blood clots, thereby reducing your risk of stroke.

There are a couple of caveats though. Since much of the antioxidant content of an apple is found in its peel, you’ll want to leave the peel on when you eat it. For this reason, look for organic apples, to avoid ingesting pesticides and other chemicals. For chocolate, the closer it is to its natural raw state, the higher its nutritional value, so look for higher cacao and lower sugar content. Your best bet is raw cacao nibs, if you can tolerate the bitterness.

Make Your Own Chocolate Treats

Based on the evidence, there’s little doubt that dark, minimally processed chocolate is a real superfood. Just don’t mistake your average chocolate bar or chocolate-covered candy for a health food! To reap the benefits, it likely needs to be at least 70 percent cacao. Better yet, opt for the raw cacao nibs. I eat about 1 ounce of raw nibs per day.

If you can’t tolerate the bitterness, use them to make your own chocolate treat, to which you can add some harmless sweeteners. In the video above, I demonstrate a recipe I created from scratch using high-quality ingredients. As you will see, there are no specific measurements, so go ahead and tweak it to your own taste.

As a base, I use raw cocoa butter and organic coconut oil. You could also use raw organic grass-fed butter in lieu of the cocoa butter. Keep in mind that these ingredients will cause the candy to melt at lower temperatures, so you will most likely need to keep it in the refrigerator to keep it from melting. Next, I add 1/8 of a cup of raw cocoa powder.

Alternatively, grind your raw cacao nibs. For sweetness, I add about 3 teaspoons of Lo-Han powder and some SteviaCinnamonpowder, mint, vanilla and/or orange extracts can also be added for flavor.

Since the majority of these ingredients are healthy fats, and there’s no added sugar, this treat will not stimulate your insulin release like most commercial candy bars will, even those with higher cacao content. Hence you get the best of both worlds — a chocolate treat with plenty of health benefits and few if any detriments.

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, you may want to experiment with making your own candy this year. Stores like Amazon and Michael’s sell all sorts of candy molds you can use for the occasion.

5 Excuses to Eat More Dark Chocolate


Chocolate: Transcending Differences Across Cultures

Chocolate is a food that transcends politics, sports, and culture across nations. It can help put aside differences and bring people from all walks of life together.

But did you know that chocolate has been bringing people together for over 4,000 years? The earliest account of chocolate consumption goes back to 1,900 B.C. in the Early Formative period. Ancient ceramic containers holding cacao residue were discovered at the El Manati archaeological site in Veracruz, Mexico.

Today, chocolate is a $50 billion industry, and is sold all over the world. Its unique flavor simply can’t be found in any other treat. But if there’s one kind chocolate you should be eating, it should be dark chocolate.

I recommend eating dark chocolate because of the many health benefits it provides. The processed chocolate bars most people are used to eating are actually unhealthy and contain very little nutrients.

What makes dark chocolate superior to other forms of chocolate anyway?

Dark Chocolate: One Chocolate to Rule Them All

The answer lies in the cacao percentage. Dark chocolate contains a high percentage of cacao. Cacao contains almost 400 varieties of polyphenol, which provides various health benefits. The same polyphenols found in cacao are also the reason for its bitter flavor. The higher the polyphenol varieties found, the more bitter the taste.

In contrast, the chocolate you’re used to eating gets its sweet flavor mainly from pasteurized milk and sugar. As you know, too much sugar in your system can lead to diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity. The milk can also interfere with the digestion of what little nutrients are left in the cacao. It goes without saying that processed chocolate also has very little healthy cacao involved.

Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Now that we’ve established that polyphenols are found in chocolate, let’s look at the important benefits they can do for you:

  • Type 2 diabetes maintenance: dark chocolate can help stabilize your blood sugar and fat metabolism, resulting in reduced insulin resistance.
  • Brain health: epicatechin found in dark chocolate can protect your brain by moderating inflammation in your central nervous system, resulting in lowered chances for stroke.
  • Heart health:  dark chocolate can help lower your risk of heart attack by reducing the clumping of platelets in your arteries and veins.
  • Mood enhancer: polyphenols found in dark chocolate can also help reduce anxiety and depression.

Choosing the Best Chocolate to Purchase

In an interview I did with Dr. Beatrice Golomb, she recommends purchasing dark chocolate with high cocoa percentage, preferably at 70 percent. If you want 100 percent of the benefits, eating raw cacao nibs is an option.

When it comes to frequency of chocolate consumption, two to three times a day is optimal to keep cacao nutrients in the bloodstream. However, make sure that you’re consuming high-quality dark chocolate, and that you don’t go overboard in terms of quantity.

I understand that the taste of raw cacao nibs may not appeal to everyone. That being said, you can look for chocolate that’s minimally processed as possible. That’s because the closer chocolate is to its natural state, the more benefits you can gain. Try to strike a balance between nutrition and taste.

Important Things to Remember Regarding Chocolate

Share the infographic above to chocolate lovers, family and friends. Tying everything together, here are the important points you can use to educate them:

  • Dark chocolate is a healthier option because it contains more cacao
  • Cacao nibs offer maximum health benefits because they are not processed at all
  • Processed milk chocolate contains plenty of sugar, which is linked to obesity and cardiovascular disease
  • Consuming small chocolate at frequent intervals to ensure the nutrients are constantly in your bloodstream

Take your time reading the information above so you can understand the health benefits of dark chocolate. If you’re not a chocolate lover, now is the perfect time to start becoming one.

dark chocolate infographic

The Amazing Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate


Of all the treats available, chocolate is one of the most popular foods in the world. The first solid chocolate bar, made from cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar, was introduced by the British chocolate company J.S. Fry & Sons in 1847, but the history of chocolate goes back at least 4,000 years.1

Amazing Health Benefits Dark Chocolate

Pre-Olmec cultures in Mexico produced chocolate as early as 1900 B.C. Originally, it was consumed as a bitter beverage. The cacao beans were fermented, roasted, and then ground into a paste that was mixed with water and spices like chili peppers and vanilla, sweetened with honey. Throughout its history, chocolate — “the food of the Gods” — has remained a symbol of luxury, wealth, and power. During the 14th century, the Aztecs and Mayans even used cacao beans as currency.

Research has also revealed chocolate has some rather impressive health benefits, provided you’re willing to give up the now-familiar sweetness of modern day milk chocolate.

The Olmecs, Mayans, and Aztecs valued cacao for its mood enhancing and aphrodisiac properties, and it was typically reserved for the ruling class. In the 17th century, cocoa and chocolate were considered potential medicine, and historical documents in Europe reveal they were used to treat angina and heart pain.2

Not All Chocolate Is Created Equal

Raw cacao is actually quite bitter, not sweet, due to the nearly 400 polyphenols that are present. When we’re referring to the health benefits of chocolate, this is the chocolate we’re referring to. Americans consume an estimated 12 pounds of chocolate per capita each year.3

Unfortunately, the vast majority of that is in the form of milk chocolate candy, which contains very minute amounts of healthy cacao, and loads of sugar. The milk added to milk chocolate can also interfere with your body’s ability to absorb the beneficial antioxidants (polyphenols) in the chocolate.

Chocolate Terminology

To get off on the right foot, it may be helpful to understand the distinction between cacao, cocoa, and chocolate:4

  • Cacao: Refers to the plant, a small evergreen tree of the species Theobroma cacao, and its dried seeds, also known as cacao beans or cocoa beans, prior to processing.

Amazing Health Benefits Dark Chocolate - CacaoIf you’re after health benefits, raw cacao nibs are what you’re looking for. Ideally, buy them whole and grind them yourself (a coffee grinder can be used for this) when using it in recipes.

Alternatively, you can eat them whole, just like you’d eat conventional chocolate chips. A healthy amount would probably be around ½ to 1 ounce per day. I personally grind 1 tablespoon of raw cacao nibs twice a day and put them into my smoothies.

  • Cocoa: Refers to the roasted cacao, ground into a powder from which most of the fat has been removed.
  • Cocoa butter: The fat component of the cacao seed.
  • Chocolate: The solid food or candy made from a preparation of roasted cacao seeds; if the cacao seeds are not roasted, then you have “raw chocolate.”

When selecting chocolate, look for higher cacao and lower sugar content. In general, the darker the chocolate, the higher the cacao content.

However, since cacao is bitter, the higher the percentage cacao, the more bitter it is (the polyphenols are what make the chocolate bitter, so manufacturers often remove them. But, it’s those polyphenols that are responsible for many of chocolate’s health benefits).

To counteract the bitterness, most chocolate is sweetened, so it’s a matter of balancing nutritional benefit with palatability. For health benefits, choose chocolate with a cacao percentage of about 70 or higher.

  • “White chocolate” contains no cocoa at all; it’s just a health-zapping mix of pasteurized milk and sugar.

Cocoa Contains Hundreds of Health-Promoting Chemicals

Cacao’s benefits are related to naturally occurring compounds in the bean, including epicatechin (a flavonoid) and resveratrol, the former of which has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and is thought to help shield your nerve cells from damage.

Resveratrol, a potent antioxidant, is known for its neuroprotective effects. It has the ability to cross your blood-brain barrier, which allows it to moderate inflammation in your central nervous system (CNS).

This is significant because CNS inflammation plays an important role in the development of neurodegenerative diseases.

Recent science also shows resveratrol is an exercise mimic and produces similar benefits as exercise to the mitochondria by stimulating AMPK and PKC-1alpha which increase mitochondrial biogenesis and mitophagy.

Norman Hollenberg, a professor of medicine at Harvard who has spent years studying the Kuna people of Panama (who consume up to 40 cups of cocoa a week), believes epicatechin is so important it should be considered a vitamin.5

The Kuna have less than a 10 percent risk of stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes, which are the most prevalent diseases ravaging the Western world.6

Indeed, many studies have confirmed that cacao can benefit your heart, blood vessels, brain, nervous system, and helps combat diabetes and other conditions rooted in inflammation.

  • One 2012 meta-analysis7 found that eating chocolate could slash your risk of cardiovascular disease by 37 percent and your stroke risk by 29 percent.
  • Another meta-analysis8 published that same year found that cocoa/chocolate lowered insulin resistance, reducedblood pressure, increased blood vessel elasticity, and slightly reduced LDL. In one study,9 patients consuming 100 grams of flavanol-rich dark chocolate for 15 days showed decreased insulin resistance.
  • According to a paper10,11 published in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, cocoa polyphenols may have specific benefits for cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, metabolic disorders, and cancer prevention. The authors note that:

“Cocoa contains about 380 known chemicals, 10 of which are psychoactive compounds … Cocoa has more phenolics and higher antioxidant capacity than green tea, black tea, or red wine … The phenolics from cocoa may … protect against diseases in which oxidative stress is implicated as a causal or contributing factor, such as cancer.They also have antiproliferative, antimutagenic, and chemoprotective effects, in addition to their anticariogenic effects.”

Chocolate and Human Health

A 2013 paper12 in the Netherlands Journal of Medicine also reviews the many health benefits of cacao, noting that many consider it a “complete food,” as it contains:

  • Healthy fats
  • Antioxidants
  • Nitrogenous compounds, including proteins, methylxanthines theobromine, and caffeine (central nervous system stimulants, diuretics, and smooth muscle relaxants. Theobromine is the ingredient that can cause heartburn in some individuals; on the other hand, it also inhibits persistent cough by reducing vagus nerve activity13)
  • Minerals, including potassium, phosphorus, copper, iron, zinc, and magnesium
  • Valeric acid (which acts as a stress reducer despite the presence of stimulants)

The following table highlights the wide range of positive health benefits science suggests are conferred by the cocoa bean.14,15,16

Anti-inflammatory17(including 17 percent reduction in C-reactive protein) Anti-carcinogenic18 Anti-thrombotic,19including improving endothelial function20 Neuroprotectivebenefits and lowered Alzheimer’s risk21
Anti-diabetic22 Anti-obesity effects, possibly due to the polyphenols’ ability to suppress fatty acid synthesis while stimulating cell energy expenditure in the mitochondria23 Cardioprotective,24including lowering blood pressure,25improving lipid profile, and helping prevent atrial fibrillation26 Improved liver function for those with cirrhosis27
Improves skin condition, and protection against UV damage28 Improves gastrointestinal flora29 Reduces stress hormones Protects vision,30and reduces symptoms of glaucoma31 and diabetes-induced cataracts32
Slows progression of periodontitis33 Improves exercise endurance34 May help extend lifespan35 Protects against preeclampsia in pregnant women36

Processing Destroys Many Valuable Nutrients

As noted in the Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity paper,37 the nutrients found in raw cacao are easily altered and destroyed through processing. The bitterness of raw cacao beans is due to their high concentration of polyphenols.

To some people, cacao is virtually inedible because of its bitterness. To make it more palatable, chocolate manufacturersdecrease the polyphenol content, and as a result you can find products containing anywhere from 10 to 100 percent polyphenols.

In dried fresh cacao beans, the total polyphenol content is around 15 to 20 percent, whereas fermented, non-defatted beans contain just 5 percent. The reason for this is because the fermentation process reduces epicatechin and soluble polyphenol content by as much as 20 percent; anthocyanidins are removed altogether, and procyanidins are decreased by as much as 500 percent.

The phenolic content of cocoa also varies depending on its origin. For example, Costa Rican cocoa contains more than 16.5 milligrams (mg) of catechins per gram (g), whereas Jamaican cocoa contains less than 2.7 mg per gram.

Amazing Health Benefits Dark Chocolate - ApplesApples May Boost Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Many real foods, eaten as close to their natural state as possible, can be considered “superfoods.” This applies to dark chocolate as well. Interestingly, certain superfoods produce great synergy when combined,38 meaning the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts. When eaten in combination, the two foods become even healthier than eating them separately, on their own.

Eating apples is associated with a lower risk of death from heart disease, an association thought to be related to their antioxidant flavonoid content,39 including the anti-inflammatory quercetin. As noted earlier, dark chocolate, which is rich in antioxidant catechins, has also been found to support heart health. When paired, dark chocolate and apples have been shown to break up blood clots, thereby reducing your risk ofstroke.

There are a couple of caveats though. Since much of the antioxidant content of an apple is found in its peel, you’ll want to leave the peel on when you eat it. For this reason, look for organic apples, to avoid ingesting pesticides and other chemicals. For chocolate, the closer it is to its natural raw state, the higher its nutritional value, so look for higher cacao and lower sugar content. Your best bet is raw cacao nibs, if you can tolerate the bitterness.

Make Your Own Chocolate Treats

Based on the evidence, there’s little doubt that dark, minimally processed chocolate is a real superfood. Just don’t mistake your average chocolate bar or chocolate-covered candy for a health food! To reap the benefits, it likely needs to be at least 70 percent cacao. Better yet, opt for the raw cacao nibs. I eat about 1 ounce of raw nibs per day.

If you can’t tolerate the bitterness, use them to make your own chocolate treat, to which you can add some harmless sweeteners. In the video above, I demonstrate a recipe I created from scratch using high-quality ingredients. As you will see, there are no specific measurements, so go ahead and tweak it to your own taste.

As a base, I use raw cocoa butter and organic coconut oil. You could also use raw organic grass-fed butter in lieu of the cocoa butter. Keep in mind that these ingredients will cause the candy to melt at lower temperatures, so you will most likely need to keep it in the refrigerator to keep it from melting. Next, I add 1/8 of a cup of raw cocoa powder.

Alternatively, grind your raw cacao nibs. For sweetness, I add about 3 teaspoons of Lo-Han powder and some Stevia. Cinnamon powder, mint, vanilla and/or orange extracts can also be added for flavor.

Since the majority of these ingredients are healthy fats, and there’s no added sugar, this treat will not stimulate your insulin release like most commercial candy bars will, even those with higher cacao content. Hence you get the best of both worlds — a chocolate treat with plenty of health benefits and few if any detriments.

With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, you may want to experiment with making your own candy this year. Stores like Amazon and Michael’s sell all sorts of candy molds you can use for the occasion.

Seasonal Affective Disorder Out The Door: 6 Ways To Stave Off The Winter Blues


Sad woman with umbrella on a rainy day
Break out of the winter blues with these cool ways, from breathing out the blues to eating chocolate.

Less hours of daylight, cold weather, and cold and flu season in the winter can make even the most optimistic of us feel down in the dumps. Therefore, it makes sense that five to six percent of Americans experience seasonal affective disorder (SAD), with 90 percent of those being women and young adults. It is common to feel downhearted during the winter months — even for those without SAD — but you don’t need to fly out to a tropical paradise to fight the winter blues.

We still have a long ways to go before basking in the summer sun. In the interim, we end up sleeping more, socializing less, and endlessly indulging in carb-laden foods. Although it may be tempting to hibernate for the season and roll out of bed once spring comes, there are do-it-yourself ways to stave off the winter blues, even for those without SAD.

1. Take Your Vitamins

Since the days are shorter and the nights are longer, vitamin D levels drop during the colder and darker months. A way to get vitamin D — as if you were soaking up the sun — would be to take vitamin D supplements. An NYU study found people with SAD saw improvements in various measures of mood.

Dr. Jennifer Strider, naturopathic doctor at Simple Family Health in Oakland, Calif., believes it makes common sense for vitamin D to have a strong effect on mood. The body produces vitamin D when it is exposed to the sun, which may help explain why we tend to be more alert and active during the warm sunny months.

“There are vitamin D receptors on every cell in the body, including cells in the nervous system, so having appropriate vitamin D levels help those cells to function optimally, which in turns results in a better mood,” she told Medical Daily in an email.

2. Breathe Out The Blues

Randomly experiencing levels of sadness during the winter months could be an indicator something is not in sync with your body. The key is to relax and return to a peaceful state of mind.

“Returning to a place of balance with mindfulness exercises, such as tai chi and yoga, doesn’t just bring with it the mood-boosting benefits of exercise, but can also restore you to a contemplative, restful, peaceful state where you can better handle the fluctuations that come with changing seasons,” Joshua Duvauchelle, a managing editor for LIVE Health Magazine in Vancouver, B.C., told Medical Daily in an email.

Practicing yoga can help people cope with anxiety, depression, and cold and flu illnesses. Yoga can modulate the stress response system by reducing perceived stress and anxiety. A 2005study published in the Medical Science Monitor found after three months of taking two 90-minute yoga classes a week, women who originally described themselves as “emotionally distressed,” showed improvements in perceived stress, depression, anxiety, energy, fatigue, and well-being.

3. Exercise

A good workout can be one of the best ways to combat the winter blues. Exercise can make you feel like you have accomplished something and make progress toward goals rather than feeling inactive. While exercising, “not only do you get a boost of endorphins you also decrease your stress hormone cortisol,” Dr. Simon Rego, director of Psychology Training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine told Medical Daily in an email.

You don’t have to do extreme exercise to reap its depression-reducing benefits. A 2005 Harvard Medical School study found walking fast for about 35 minutes a day five times a week or 60 minutes a day three times a week did have a significant influence on mild to moderate depression symptoms. This is no surprise, since exercise boosts endorphins which improve natural immunity and reduce the perception of pain.

4. Color Your Sadness Away

Color therapy can help boost your mood and stimulate certain feelings during the dark and gray winter months. Duvauchelle affirms this is a powerful way to help you stay emotionally balanced.

“Violet and red increases energy,” he said, “and yellow and green have been shown to make people feel more upbeat and happy.” Duvauchelle suggests incorporating these colors into your surroundings with either a painting, a vibrant coffee mug, a potted houseplant, or a comfy blanket.

5. Aromatherapy

Scents can be utilized to provide solace and evoke pleasant memories. Using aromatherapy can enhance your sense of pleasure and improve your mood. A 2009 study published in theJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found aromatherapy can be effective for people with depression symptoms, specifically lavender. However, Dr. Moe Gelbart, a licensed clinical psychologist at Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, Calif., told Medical Daily in an email: “Just be careful not to rely on them too much and to add to mix activities that also give you a sense of mastery/accomplishment.”

6. Eat Chocolate

Chocoholics may rejoice by the fact dark chocolate can actually boost your dopamine levels in your brain. This is because chocolate is high in tryptophan and phenylalanine, and tyrosine, and like other amino acids, these nitrogen-rich compounds are building blocks of all the body’s proteins, according to the Harvard Health Publications. They are precursors of adrenaline and dopamine. So munch away on dark chocolate. It’s at least 70 percent cocoa and boosts the production of phenylalanine.

These cool ways will help stave off your winter blues effectively.

How to Use Dark Chocolate as a Medicine


Some medical claims sound too good to be true, but as it turns out – you really can use chocolate dark chocolate as a medicine. Turn out, dark chocolate is full of nutrients and loaded with health benefits.

chocolate2

Dark Chocolate as A Natural Medicine

1. Dark Chocolate Makes You Smarter:
It’s true. Studies have shown that those who consume a nice hot cup of hot chocolate in the evenings before bed have over time improved brain function. It does this by increasing the blood flow in your brain and your heart, which instantly improves your cognitive function.

2. Dark Chocolate Gives You Youth:
High in anti-oxidants, dark chocolate helps combat the radical cell damage caused by toxins and free radical activity through aging. Stay young and healthy by eating chocolate.

3. Dark Chocolate is Excellent for The Heart:
Studies have shown that those who do indulge in eating dark chocolate have lower blood pressure, improved blood flow and have a smaller risk of blood clots. Strengthen your heart by eating dark chocolate 3 times a week.

4. Dark Chocolate Improves Your Mood:
Chocolate has been proven to put you in a better mood, make you calmer and feel more relaxed. Which is just as important as any other health benefit. Now you know why you want chocolate when you’re stressed or in despair.

5. Dark Chocolate is a Vitamin Source:
Chocolate contains some great vitamins and minerals that support good health. This list includes: potassium, copper, magnesium, iron. All of which are in high concentrations to provide you with the protection against such things as: stroke, anemia, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

6. Reduce Your Cholesterol:
Regular consumption of dark chocolate may reduce your cholesterol. Its antioxidants protect oxidation of LDL cholesterol and prevents artery damage.

7. Hot Raw Chocolate For A Cough:
Chocolate contains theobromine which soothes a cough and has a similar effect to codeine. So try a hot cup of almond milk and raw cocoa when you have a cough.

8. Lower Your Blood Pressure:
Flavanols help your arteries to relax, which lowers blood flow and blood pressure.

9. Reduce Stress Levels:
Dark chocolate contains magnesium, which gives us a happy, feel good vibe and lifts our spirit. And there is more – compounds found in dark chocolate lower cortisol levels to relax body and mind.

10. Dark Chocolate Protects Your Skin
Flavonoids in dark chocolate protect your skin from UV damage. But don´t see it as your new sunscreen, you still need that when going out in the sun.

11. Natural Painkiller
Chocolate stimulates our body to produce calming and pain relieving endorphins.

Health coach Amy Goodrich goes on to say, “…don’t get me wrong here… although there are plenty of health benefits, chocolate is unfortunately also high in calories coming from fat and sugar. So don’t swap all your veggie and fruit snacks with chocolate. Like with many things in life, moderation is the key here.”

Sources:
Healthy and Natural World
Healthy Holistic Living

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