Tuesday, 10 January 2017

13 Reasons to Love Chocolate

Forget death by chocolate. More and more research is showing that high quality, dark chocolate (or cocoa or cacao) may actually improve your health. Here are 13 reasons to love chocolate:

1.  Chocolate, cocoa, and cacao are high in the mineral magnesium which is essential for over 500 functions in your body, including:  heart health and muscle function.

2.  Chocolate may reduce the risk of heart failure.  Murray Mittleman and his colleagues at Harvard Medical School studied data on 31,823 middle-aged and elderly Swedish women to assess the relationship between chocolate and heart failure.  The women who consumed an average of one to two servings (that’s a fairly small amount) of high-quality, cocoa-rich chocolate per week had a 32 percent lower risk of experiencing heart failure.  Those women who ate one to three servings a month had a 26 percent lower risk of heart failure. 

3.  Cocoa and cacao contain plant nutrients called proanthocyanidins. These phytonutrients have been shown in research to protect against carcinogens and nervous system toxins.

4.  It lowers blood pressure in people whose blood pressure is high, according to a meta-analysis study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews.

5.  Chocolate helps support the production of dopamine in the body.  Dopamine is a brain chemical that helps us feel good.  Impaired dopamine production is involved in brain disorders like Parkinson’s disease. Foods that aid the production of dopamine may be helpful in the prevention of such illnesses.

6.  Cocoa, or chocolate with high amounts of it, lowers LDL cholesterol and raises HDL cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol).

7.  According to preliminary research in the journal Clinical Nephrology, cocoa and dark chocolate may help protect the kidneys from disease.

8.  Eating chocolate increases the levels of endorphins—the body’s own natural pain killers. Eating dark chocolate may help reduce pain.

9.  Raw cacao increases the amount of a substance called N-arachidonoylethanolamine in the brain (try saying that 10 times fast, or even just once correctly!).  It is a neurotransmitter that improves communication between brain and nerve cells. A study in Behavioral Pharmacology found that increases in this neurotransmitter improved memory in rats. It may also improve human memory.

10.  Consumption of raw cacao increases weight loss in overweight individuals, according to research in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

11.  Eating dark chocolate causes the release of hormones called phenylethylamines (PEAs) that are also released when we are in love, helping us to feel happy.

12.  The high concentration of phytonutrients called flavonoids in dark chocolate are potent antioxidants. Antioxidants help eliminate free radicals associated with aging and inflammation in the body.

13.  It just tastes great. That’s enough reason for most people.

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