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Chocolate A Day

Updated on October 11, 2014

Just 100g of dark chocolate

Just 100g of dark chocolate a day could help lower your risk of heart problems. Dark chocolate is good for the heart, so don’t be surprised if your doctor is soon telling you to eat plain chocolate as a cardioprotective strategy for lowering blood pressure and improving blood lipids. New evidence of dark chocolate’s benefits for a naturally healthy heart come courtesy of a team of researchers in Victoria, Australia. The scientists looked at the use of dark chocolate as a preventive strategy for cardiovascular disease in people with metabolic syndrome and the results add to a growing stack of evidence on the benefits of dark chocolate for heart health.

Eat one piece of dark chocolate a day

Eat one piece of dark chocolate a day. Some of you might really like dark chocolate, so the hard part would be to only eat one piece. Personally, I prefer (and love) milk chocolate, so this is actually not an easy change for me. I have been tasting different brands of dark chocolate in search for one I like. So far my taste buds favor Green & Black's Organic -- 2 pieces equal only 1 point! I would love to know if you have a dark chocolate you like.

It only took 30 calories of dark chocolate a day to lower the blood pressure of the participants in a 2006 study published in "The Journal of the American Medical Association." Participants consumed 6.3 g of polyphenol-rich dark chocolate for a period of 18 weeks and saw their systolic blood pressure decline by 2.9 points and their diastolic blood pressure decline by 1.9 points. This change occurred without changes in body weight or other relevant factors. White chocolate was also studied, and did not confer any benefits.

Many of the health benefits of cacao beans

Many of the health benefits of cacao beans come from plant nutrients called flavonoids which help plants repair damage and protect themselves. Flavonoids function as antioxidants when we eat them, neutralizing damage caused by normal stresses such as breathing as well as environmental contaminants including air pollution.

Some of the health benefits from chocolate are due to the antioxidants present in cocoa itself, such as flavonols. These are a sub-class of flavonoids, and are natural plant chemicals (phytochemicals) found in fruits and vegetables. There are several thousand compounds belonging to the antioxidant-rich polyphenol family, also called phytochemicals, which are very good for us.

Portion control

Portion control: Ideally, about an ounce of dark chocolate a day. Dark chocolate is good, but too much of even a good thing can be a bad thing. Pigging out on chocolate can make you fat and/or jittery, the latter because theobromine in the chocolate acts as a stimulant.

The study found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed.The daily dose also partially corrected other stress-related biochemical imbalances. And that's not all...Sunil Kochhar and colleagues note growing scientific evidence that antioxidants and other beneficial substances in dark chocolate may reduce risk factors for heart disease and other physical conditions. Although studies in the past have suggested that chocolate may ease emotional stress, there was little evidence until now from research in humans on exactly how chocolate might have those stress-busting effects.

The study

The study found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed.The daily dose also partially corrected other stress-related biochemical imbalances. And that's not all...Sunil Kochhar and colleagues note growing scientific evidence that antioxidants and other beneficial substances in dark chocolate may reduce risk factors for heart disease and other physical conditions. Although studies in the past have suggested that chocolate may ease emotional stress, there was little evidence until now from research in humans on exactly how chocolate might have those stress-busting effects.

Cocoa

Cocoa, according to Robin Borders, a nutritionist and clinical dietician with MCGHealth, is the component of chocolate that provides all of the benefits. Cocoa contains flavonoids (appropriately named since they occur in many delicious foods and beverages), a category of antioxidants that scientists believe is responsible for chocolate's anti-inflammatory properties, reducing the chance of blood clots and inhibiting cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels. The darker the chocolate, the higher the cocoa content and, therefore, the more beneficial it is.

But the subtle benefits

But the subtle benefits are sometimes the most impressive. Adding the healthy chocolate to my diet has caused me not to crave as much junk food. Instead I want more fruits and salads and choose yogurt for a snack rather than the fat- and sugar-laden chocolate pudding I would have chosen before. This chocolate satisfies my craving like no other chocolate can, and causes me to be more satisfied in all my food cravings. And the longer I consume the chocolate the more I no longer notice a formerly tender joint. I am now convinced that the chocolate will only continue to improve my health and my life for as long as I continue to consume it.

People throw around the term "dark chocolate"

People throw around the term "dark chocolate" without knowing what they are talking about. According to chocolate industry standards, dark chocolate is simply chocolate containing no milk solids. One of the chocolates I make at Chiammaya Custom Crafted Chocolate is more than 65% sugar yet it is still dark chocolate. ALL of my chocolate is made with only four ingredients, organic cacao beans from south and Central America, organic cinnamon, almonds and sugar.

Chocolate on the brain?

Chocolate on the brain? Not surprising. Women (and men) have voted chocolate the most craved food. This semisweet cocoa delight made its way to the heart of a tug-of-war these past few years. “Health benefits!” news reporters chime excitedly when touching on new research results within the past decade. And every time, you say to yourself, “Chocolate? Really? It’s too good to be true.” A few paper cuts later, and Her Campus has returned from the library of heavy scientific journals with what you need to know… and it’s as juicy as a cherry cordial.

For people with herpes

For people with herpes another dark aspect of dark chocolate is that it's high in L-arginine. Herpes feeds off L-arginine.

Many people find that the bitterness of dark chocolate is too strong a taste after years of eating fat and sugar-laden candy. Dark chocolate is more satisfying, however, and those who do eat it tend to eat less chocolate overall. Re-training your taste buds to enjoy dark chocolate can then alert you to just how sugary and fatty most candy bars actually are, and you may find other benefits as your tastes change other poor dietary and nutrition habits such as soda consumption .

Also, keep your chocolates away from any other foods

Also, keep your chocolates away from any other foods or substances with strong odors that could be absorbed. One of the most important reasons for proper storage is to avoid the effects of ?blooming.? Frequent exposure to high temperatures can cause the fats or sugars in the chocolate to rise to the surface and create an unpleasant grayish color. This ?bloom? is completely harmless and does not affect the taste of the chocolates but diminishes the visual appeal. Do not refrigerate or freeze chocolates without providing them proper protection from exposure to air and moisture. Refrigerating chocolates is not necessary unless you live in an extremely warm climate and do not have air conditioning.

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