Chocolate: An Ounce a Day May Keep the Doctor Away
I eat chocolate literally every single day. Sometimes, when I feel a need for a break from caffeine, I will replace it with carob, or not eat it all together. But, I just couldn’t imagine going without it for myself. Many people, upon hearing my love for chocolate, are shocked that I support such a fattening food. This is because they are brainwashed into thinking that the only chocolate on the market is in the form of a Hershey’s candy bar.
Actually, the chocolate that I eat supports weight loss and weight maintenance efforts, and provides anti-carcinogenic and other properties for health. My favorite chocolate is 100% cacao, with the ingredient list having just one ingredient: cocoa. That’s it. It’s bitter for most people, but it’s deliciously smooth and invigorating.
There are many reasons why you might want to add an ounce of chocolate every single day to your meal plan. Below are just some of those reasons. The health benefits of chocolate range greatly, and I suspect there are many health benefits that haven’t even been discovered. If you have adrenal troubles, then chocolate might not be for you, or anything with caffeine. However, for everyone else – why not add some dark chocolate for an after dinner treat?
NOTE: All the health benefits of chocolate mentioned below are based on dark chocolate, not milk chocolate. I consider dark chocolate being 80%-100%. Anything below that percentage just has too much sugar.
Chocolate Helps Lower Blood Pressure
Recent research shows that one of the health benefits of chocolate is that of lower blood pressure to healthier levels. This research was based on dark chocolate and cocoa powder, and is exciting for those who are seeking natural alternatives to reduce blood pressure. Remember – choose chocolate that has 5 grams of sugar or less (ideally less) per serving, as sugar can contribute to high blood pressure levels.
Chocolate Helps Fight Cravings and Supports Weight Loss
Dark chocolate contains a high percentage of calories from the fat in cocoa butter. This fat actually helps to satiate you, as fat is the most satiating (filling) macronutrient, with protein coming in second. Cocoa butter also contains some medium chained saturated fats, which have been shown to support weight loss by speeding up the metabolism. Again, choosing chocolate without sugar, or very low amounts of sugar, is your best bet, as sugar will negate any weight loss benefits in the chocolate itself.
Chocolate May Be Good for Your Heart
Dark chocolate may inhibit the oxidation of LDL cholesterol (or the “bad” cholesterol), reducing the risk of stroke and heart disease. One of the most exciting health benefits of chocolate for those on statins is the fact that cocoa may actually help improve your HDL:LDL profile, as well as your triglycerides.
Chocolate is Anti-Carcinogenic
Cocoa powder is one of the highest antioxidant containing foods, according to the ORAC Value chart, and some studies have pointed to the fact that chocolate may be helpful in preventing some types of cancers. Again, the health benefits of chocolate are reversed when there is a high amount of sugar and pasteurized dairy added to the food, as both (more specifically sugar) are driving forces behind disease development.
Chocolate is a Brain Stimulator
I suspect this is due to the fact that chocolate has caffeine. In 2007, BBC News reported that melting chocolate on your tongue may cause a more intense and longer lasting buzz afterwards than passionate kissing, which definitely makes you think. This may be helpful in speeding up reaction time. Also, some research has shown it to be helpful in memory and cognition.
Chocolate is Great for the Skin
Researchers in Germany gave women 1/2 cup of a rich cocoa beverage every day for three months. It was observed that the women’s skin became moister and smoother, possibly due to the rich flavonoid content. Their skin was also less prone to UV radiation damage, mainly due to the antioxidant content.
Here are some of my favorite chocolate recipes from this blog:
This is The Healthy Advocate.