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Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate
Chocolate is considered the most widely and frequently craved food.
How often do you hear people admit being totally addicted to chocolate. Or classifying themselves as a chocoholic.
Chocolate is said to contain mood-enhancing ingredients that give it special appeal.
What comes to mind when you hear the word chocolate?
Decadent rich luxurious melting chocolate. Chocolate cake with chocolate icing and chocolate chips. Dense chocolate brownies. Smooth chocolate mousse.
We all know that chocolate is bad for us right? Wrong!
Dark Chocolate is nutritious.
Dark Chocolate is full of antioxidants.
Dark Chocolate has health benefits.
For the Chocoholics
- Is the chocolate melting in your hands? You are eating too slowly.
- Chocolate covered sultanas and strawberries are counted as fruit, so eat as many as you want.
- Add “eat chocolate” to your To Do List. That way, at least you’ll get one thing done.
Cocoa Bean to Chocolate
The cocoa bean comes from a cocoa tree which only bears its fruit three or four times a year. Their blossoms, delicate pink with white petals are a striking feature and sit on the trunk of the tree.
With the appearance of a cucumber due to its elongated shape, the cocoa pod is hard, coarse in texture and changes from a green to brown as it ripens.
Inside the cocoa pod is white fruit pulp which contains up to 40 seed kernels, known as cocoa beans. These seeds, along with the white pulp, are removed from the pod and fermented, a process in the production of high quality raw cocoa. This process can differ depending on the region in which the cocoa is grown.
Raw cocoa contains water and after this is evaporated, the beans take on a brown appearance and a stronger aroma. The cocoa beans are then roasted, ground and made into cocoa powder.
Dark Chocolate and Weight Loss
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, substituting dark for regular milk or white chocolate, or other sugary foods actually reduces cravings for sugar.
Dark chocolate is known to be more filling. How many times have you eaten one piece of dark chocolate and felt satisfied, yet you can finish an entire block of milk or white chocolate before you even blink your eyes!
If dark chocolate it more filling, and reduces the cravings for sweet and oily foods then surely it is an efficient way to result in weight loss. For some people, the craving of sugar is what causes us to overeat and hence put on the kilos.
Dark Chocolate Insulin and Blood Pressure
Dark chocolate is said to have the qualities that decrease blood pressure and improve insulin sensitivity.
Insulin, released by our pancreas to deal with rises in blood sugar, transports glucose into the cells in our body.
Eating too much sugar causes greater levels of insulin to be produced and overtime it is stated that repeated release of insulin results in our cells being resistant to it.
Ultimately our cells are deprived and when the body fears it is being deprived, cells store fat to protect itself from starvation. The result, arguably, weight gain.
Replace your chocolate cravings with dark chocolate, reduce the body’s requirement to release insulin and coupled with the fact that eating dark chocolate reduces cravings, you may have a new weight loss secret.
Magnesium, Sulphur, PEA and Antioxidants in Chocolate
Studies of nutrients found in chocolate indicate that it contains more magnesium than any other food. Magnesium is a stress relieving mineral and it relaxes the muscles and builds strong bones and teeth.
Chocolate is also rich in sulphur, a mineral often found in beauty products.
Chocolate is also one of the only sources of PEA (phenyl ethylamine), which a central nervous system stimulant known to increase serotonin levels in the brain and this is thought to make you feel happy.
Oh, so that is why I am so happy when I eat chocolate!
Chocolate is also full of antioxidants which are commonly stated as being beneficial in slowing down the aging process.
The following compares chocolate (both raw cacoa and dark chocolate) to some of the more commonly known antioxidant foods. The ORAC number (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) is a value given to foods based on their antioxidant levels .
- Raw Cacao: ORAC 28,000
- Acai Berries: ORAC 18,500
- Dark Chocolate: ORAC 13,120
- Goji Berries: ORAC 3,472
- Blueberries: ORAC 2,400
When you next go shopping and plan on grabbing a tub of gorgeous blueberries to give yourself an antioxidant boost…grab some dark chocolate instead, and it will make you feel extra happy.