The amazing health benefits of dark chocolate, whether it be A LITTLE or A LOT of chocolate, need to be examined. Unfortunately, what Cadbury and other chocolate manufactures have done to chocolate through processing, has altered this natural health food into a disease promoting product full of sugar!!!!
A brief history of chocolate
The benefits of dark chocolate
- an 11 % increase in walking distance
- a 15 % increase in walking time
- a 57 % increase in Nitric Oxide which helps relaxation and dilation of arteries
- two markers associated with constriction of arteries went down by 23 to 37 %
Milk Chocolate has NO HEALTH BENEFITS AT ALL!!! Let me say it again to emphasise NO HEALTH BENEFITS AT ALL!!!
Cacao (ka-kow) refers to the plant, a small evergreen tree which produces seeds known as Cocoa Beans. This is prior to processing. The best health benefits of dark chocolate come from the RAW Cocoa beans (unroasted). Unfortunately, many companies roast the beans and then grind them into a powder…it is this powder that is used in chocolate making. You can also buy organic raw Cacao Nibs, which can be a fantastic addition to Walnuts, Brazil nuts etc… for your do-it-yourself breakfast cereal.
The higher the percentage of Cocoa, the more bitter the chocolate and the healthier it is. The bitterness comes from the polyphenols, Flavonoids, Resveratrol (also found in red wine ) which:
- act as antioxidants
- are anti-inflammatory
- lower Ldl Cholesterol
- Increase Hdl Cholesterol (this will overall lower cholesterol ratio, which is the desired effect)
- Protect our nervous systems
- Healthy Fats
- Antioxidants, such as Resveratrol
- Minerals: Potassium, Magnesium, Copper, Iron, and Zinc
- Valerie Acid, which acts as a stress reducer despite the presence of stimulants
- Caffeine, a stimulant
- Theobromine, which has been shown to be very effective at melting away coughs!!!! The next cough bottle should have Cocoa in it!!!
Eat more raw Cocoa!
The negative effects of dark chocolate
- Because Dark Chocolate is high in caffeine, it can cause problems such as jitteriness, headaches or even increased heart palpitations. So for people who are sensitive to coffee or caffeine…be warned !!!
- Dark chocolate can also affect certain drugs such as Blood Thinners e.g. Warfarin. So be careful as you may experience more bruising if you increase Cocoa in your diet. However, the most important thing to remember with Warfarin is to get your International Normalised Ration (INR) checked regularly.
- People who are prone to headaches should also be careful .
- Diabetics should also beware that caffeine can raise blood sugar levels, so monitor these carefully.
- People on the Contraceptive Pill or undergoing Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) should be careful as these hormones can reduce the body’s ability to breakdown caffeine and so jitteriness or headaches can arise if you increase your caffeine intake.
- Large doses of Cocoa could lower blood pressure so be careful if you are on BP medication. Again, its just a case of regularly monitoring your blood pressure.
- One other fact to mention is that Dark Chocolate is heavy on calories so beware! It may be a health food but maybe ladies and gentlemen our favourite treat should be kept to the dark and a couple of squares at a time.
Food is my medicine!