Healthy Chocolate

For many years chocolate has been taken by many as a guilty pleasure. But there have been recent studies showing that chocolate – the dark kind in particular has show excellent

health

benefits. So as it may seem the ancient Mayan civilisation may have been on to something when they deem chocolate the food of the gods.

Healthy Chocolate

In two independent studies done it was found that dark chocolate was a potent anti oxidant. Furthermore it was discovered that dark chocolate plays a role in the lowering of high blood pressure. But that's no license to go on a chocolate binge. Eating more dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure -- if you've reached a certain age and have mild high blood pressure, say the researchers. But you have to balance the extra calories by eating less of other things.

To test this discovery Dr Dirk Taubert signed up a group of men and women aged between 55 and 64 all of whom had been diagnosed with high blood pressure. Every day for two weeks, they ate a 100-gram chocolate bar and were asked to balance its 480 calories by not eating other foods similar in nutrients and calories. Half the patients got dark chocolate and half got white chocolate. Those who ate dark chocolate had a significant drop in blood pressure (by an average of 5 points for systolic and an average of 2 points for diastolic blood pressure). Those who ate white chocolate did not.

Eating dark chocolate also increases the level of anti oxidants in your body. Anti oxidants destroy free radicals and other destructive molecules that you come into contact with daily. In a second study Dr Mario Serafini it was found that eating dark chocolate increased the levels of anti oxidants in the body. Dr Serafini’s team signed up seven healthy women and five healthy men aged 25-35. On different days they each ate 100 grams of dark chocolate by itself, 100 grams of dark chocolate with a small glass of whole milk, or 200 grams of milk chocolate. An hour later, those who ate dark chocolate alone had the most total antioxidants in their blood as well as t higher levels of epicatechin, a particularly healthy compound found in chocolate. The milk chocolate eaters had the lowest epicatechin levels of all.

So what is it about dark chocolate that results in these health benefits? Well dark chocolate has undergone the least amount of refinements and therefore contains higher levels of plant phenols. The cocoa phenols from the cocoa plant from which chocolate comes from contain high amounts of anti oxidants and aid in decreasing blood pressure.

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