Do you sometimes indulge in chocolate and feel guilty immediately afterwards? Now you can rest easy after consuming a few pieces of chocolate occasionally, especially dark chocolate.
1) Lowers risk of heart disease and stroke
Although we have been taught that saturated fats may negatively impact the cardiovascular system, saturated fat from the cocoa bean does not raise blood cholesterol like other saturated fatty acids. The intestinal tract has a hard time absorbing fat from cocoa butter and its effect on cholesterol has been considered “neutral.”
According to an article in the Journal of Cardiology Research and Practice, a European study revealed that eating chocolate may lower blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease. Conducted over eight years, the study urund that consuming 7.5 grams of chocolate daily reduces the risk of myocardial infarction by 27 per cent and lowers the risk of stroke by 48 per cent.
2) Excellent source of flavonoids and antioxidants
Cocoa contains some of the highest amounts of flavonoids known to us, which are a special class of plant nutrients that help protect plants from environmental toxins and help repair damage. The cocoa bean is rich in flavonoids and gives us an ‘antioxidant power’ when we consume it. Contemporary Reviews in Cardivascular Medicine suggests that consuming cocoa boosts antioxidant capacity in the plasma. Teas, grape juice, wine and berries are other foods that contain high amounts of flavonoids.
Chocolate consumption has been found to release feel good brain chemicals and encourage a positive shift in mood. A study in 2013 revealed antidepressant effect in rats that consumed high flavanol cocoa extract in a forced swimming test.
Another study indicated that by three days of a group of test subjects consuming chocolate, mood was found to significantly improved. Mood enhancing factors included a decline in fatigue and increased energy.
Cocoa has been found to possess anti-inflammatory properties. It prevents anti-inflammatory chemicals called “cytokines” from damaging the body.
5) High in magnesium
Chocolate has been found to be a great source of magnesium. Magnesium promotes muscle relaxation, nerve conduction, energy production and the development of bone and teeth (See white paper for more information).
Magnesium is important during a woman’s menstruation. Ladies, stay in tune with your body and you may notice yourself craving chocolate during this time when your hormones are fluctuating.
6) Nutritional powerhouse
Cocoa also contains fiber, iron, zinc, copper and calcium. Helping to lower cholesterol levels, fibre promotes low colon cancer rates by fostering sugar metabolism and preventing constipation (See white paper for more information).
7) May promote longevity
A French woman that has the longest confirmed lifespan on record lived to be 122 years old. What is particularly interesting about this is that she attributes her long life to eating and applying olive oil to her skin, consuming port wine and eating up to one kilo of chocolate every week. You can read her story here.
Before you reach for a chocolate bar, we’d like you to note the difference between varieties.
Traditional chocolate bars contain limited cocoa and are filled with sugar, dairy, soy and other ingredients. Dark chocolate is typically made up of only four ingredients; cacao beans, cocoa or coconut butter (fat component) and coconut sugar or maple sugar (sweet component) plus berries or nuts for flavour. It has not been heated above 113°F (or 45°C), so antioxidants, enzymes and nutrients in raw chocolate remain intact during processing. Milk chocolate on the other hand, is typically processed at 266°F (or 130°C).
See Food Fight: Dark Chocolate vs. Milk Chocolate
If you are looking for high quality chocolate, Zebra Organics offers a great selection of dark chocolate products, including organic and raw chocolate spread by Chocolatl. This is a great addition to any shake or smoothie and makes for a great snack.