Oh chocolate; you much maligned gift from the Mayans. For too long now, chocolate has been misunderstood and I am here to set the record straight: Chocolate is good for you. That’s right… you heard me: Chocolate is very, very good for you. A chocolate a day will keep the doctor away. It will also reduce your risk of strokes and heart attacks, lower cholesterol, prevent cavities, reduce stress, keep you young and improve your brain functioning. Best. News. Ever!
Let’s take a romp through the benefits of chocolate shall we?
Heart Attacks and Stroke? Stopped in their tracks!
A University of Cambridge study analyzed the results of seven studies involving over 100,000 candidates. Researchers determined that the “highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37% reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29% reduction in stroke compared with lowest levels.” This may be due to the high level of antioxidants in the chocolate which helps to keep arteries clean.
Old age and dementia? Foiled!
When oxidation occurs, free-radicals cause damage to cellular DNA. The result is the loss of elasticity in the skin, damage to brain cells which reduces brain functioning, and damage to cells which cause age-related diseases. Antioxidants (like those contained in chocolate), attach themselves to free-radicles and neutralize their ability to damage cells.
Cavities and mouth bacteria? Karate chopped!
A study from the Osaka University in Japan found that parts of the cocoa bean actually help to combat mouth bacteria and tooth decay. This is what the chaps at the BBC had to say: “It is so successful in combating decay that scientists believe some of its components may one day be added to mouthwash or toothpaste.”
Stress? Totally busted!
If you’re feeling a little stressed out, studies show eating chocolate can help reduce levels of stress hormones in your blood. Chocolate contains more than 400 different compounds that improve your mood and reduce stress. Serotonin, endorphins and phenylethylamine are all mood-lifting substances found in chocolate. Choclate also contains stimulants like caffeine and theobromine, and the amphetamine-like compounds tyramine and phenyletylamine.
As with all things, moderation is the key. Dark chocolate with higher cacao content provides the greatest health benefits while good quality chocolate has fewer saturated vegetable fats. When you do indulge in chocolate, make sure its fair trade and organically grown.
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