You have probably heard the good news: chocolate is good for your health. But is it really? How can those fabulously rich brownies and other yummy chocolate treats we love be healthy when they are also responsible for expanding our derrieres? I decided to investigate the claim that chocolate is healthy and share my findings with you.
The first thing I discovered is that this news is hardly new. The use of chocolate for its health benefit is traceable as far back as the Aztecs (14th through 16th centuries A.D.). The Aztecs used it to reduce fevers, control childhood diarrhea, and to increase strength before military conquests. Chocolate’s reputation as a potent medicine has continued through the centuries and has been used in a variety of ways including increasing breast milk production, to clean teeth, to prevent syphilis, and even to prolong longevity. So, if we eat more chocolate, will we live longer? This sounds too good to be true!
The current claims that chocolate is healthy for us are based on scientific research being conducted at various universities, including Cornell University, Harvard Medical School and the University of Scranton. What a relief – scientific evidence to back up the claims!
The university findings show that cacao is full of antioxidants. In fact, it has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times those found in green tea. This is because cacao is full of flavanols, a type of flavanoid. Research indicates that flavanols actually improve our vascular health. They can lower blood pressure and lower cholesterol. Two flavanols found in chocolate, catechins and epicatechins, boost our immunity. So, chocolate lowers blood pressure, lowers cholesterol levels, and boosts immunity. Wow! The list of health benefits goes on. Chocolate contains serotonin, an antidepressant and serotonin stimulates endorphin production. This explains why we feel better after we eat it.
I’m glad to know the claims are founded on hard science, but what I think many of us want to know is some practical information, like what kind of chocolate is healthy for us, all of it or just certain kinds? And is there a recommended daily limit?
Part 2 will answer these questions.
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