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Health Benefits of Cocoa

Updated on March 1, 2011
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Why Cocoa Is So Good For You

When people are trying to lose weight or maintain their weight, many will avoid foods that are considered to be "bad". Chocolate and cocoa are two of those "bad" foods. A healthy lifestyle incorporates the "everything in moderation" mentality. "Bad" foods can still be enjoyed, just be sure to enjoy them in moderation. Cocoa is a delectable treat, and it is OK to indulge in it every now and then. When you do indulge in cocoa, you will be getting several health benefits. Cocoa health benefits range anywhere from protecting against heart disease to being high in antioxidants.

Protection Against Heart Disease

Cardiovascular disease starts when atherosclerosis develops. Atherosclerosis occurs when there is a build up of plaque on the artery walls. This plaque contains cholesterol. Over time, this plaque hardens and narrows the arteries, restricting blood flow and causing high blood pressure. Cocoa contains flavonoids that can protect against this damage. It deters the oxidation of the "bad" cholesterol (LDL) from free radicals that can cause this process to start. The flavonoids can suppress the formation of blood clots by hindering the small blood cells from clumping together.

Rich In Antioxidants

The power of antioxidants are well known. Antioxidants slow the process of aging. They make us look and feel younger. They help ward off chronic diseases such as cancer and stroke. They also help ward off cellular damage from environmental substances we come into contact with every day. Antioxidants are quite abundant in cocoa. Indulging in a piece of chocolate or a mug of cocoa every once in a while can help build up your antioxidant reserves.

Cocoa Can Enhance Your Mood

Chocolate has a way of making everything better. If your mood is down low, you might get an uplifting feeling when you have some cocoa. This is due to the chemical called phenylethylamine, a mood enhancing chemical. The effects of this chemical are similar to amphetamine-like substances. However, if you are feeling anxious or are prone to panic attacks, it could have the opposite reaction. Another down side to this chemical is the fact that it can be addictive. So when someone refers themselves as being a "chocoholic", they mean it. Once they start, they have a hard time stopping.

The Darker The Better

The darker the chocolate is, the better it is for you. Milk chocolate may be tasty, however, it doesn't have the nutritional value or health benefits that darker chocolate has. So when you're out looking to buy some chocolate, make sure you choose dark instead of milk chocolate or white chocolate. This goes for both hard chocolate and cocoa mix.

It is important to understand that cocoa is not a cure-all. It should be eaten in moderation. Just because it helps with certain health problems, it doesn't mean it is OK to make a feast out of chocolate...however tempting that may be sometimes. It can not only be comforting to sit down with a hot mug of hot cocoa, it can also bring on health benefits. So, drink up and enjoy.

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    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 

      7 years ago from US

      Very good, I had heard lately dark chocolate lowers blood pressure too.

      Polly

    • 6hotfingers3 profile image

      6hotfingers3 

      7 years ago

      Great hub! A different look at dark chocolate. The benefits are encouraging to splurge once in a while. That is if it is splurging on something that can help me stay well. Thank you for this informative hub. Keep up the good work!

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