Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More Dark Chocolate Antioxidant Benefits

While I am on the topic of chocolate health benefits, I couldn't pass this interesting article from Science Daily. The article is called "Cocoa 'Vitamin' Health Benefits Could Outshine Penicillin"

The reason they believe it to be so important is that there is a compound in cocoa called epicatechin. Scientists are crediting this compound with huge health benefits.
Norman Hollenberg, a professor of medicine, studied the Kuna people in Panama, and the benefits of cocoa drinking. These people can drink up to 40 cups of cocoa in a week. That is about 5 or 6 cups a day. He observed that the diseases of stroke, heart failure, cancer and diabetes were reduced to a rate of less than 10%.

Natural cocoa, which is what these people used, contains high levels of epicatechin. Epicatechin and other flavanols give cocoa a bitter taste and so they are removed from commercial cocoas. I saw some raw cocoa in the health food shop today, maybe that would be one way to get this important compound.

Other sources of the flavonoid epicatechin are: white tea, green tea, dark grapes especially in the skins and seeds - hence also red wine, apple, apricot and blueberries.

So for good health chocolate really could be a great addition to the diet. Of course keeping the sugar content low at the same time would be something to keep in mind. I am thinking of using raw cocoa and rapadua (dehydrated cane juice) to make a healthy chocolate drink. No milk of course because it seems that using milk with cocoa inhibits the absorption of the flavonoids and antioxidants.

Enjoy good health,


Monday, May 24, 2010

A Surprising Food to Benefit Health: Chocolate

Here are some other chocolate health benefits.

Blood Pressure
One of the reasons that chocolate can be beneficial to blood pressure is that chocolate antioxidants called flavonoids help relax blood pressure. This is because they enhance the production of nitric oxide and also because they help balance certain hormones in the body
Nitric Oxide
Nitric oxide signals the blood vessels to dilate or expand. It has a role in transporting oxygen to the tissues. It is produced when the body relaxes. Anything that helps the body to relax, or anything that combats stress, can help the supply of oxygen to the cells and reduce blood pressure.

Dark chocolate can lower LDL cholesterol by up to 10%. Remember to eat dark chocolate. Antioxidant levels in dark chocolate are much higher than milk chocolate or white chocolate.

Chocolate helps to stimulate endorphin production. It seems that eating chocolate causes more endorphins to be released into the brain. Endorphins can help to reduce pain and decrease stress levels.

Chocolate is high in the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan causes an increase in the release of serotonin. An increase in the serotonin level helps a person's mood to be better. The anti depressant action of serotonin is well known.

There are over 300 different chemicals found in chocolate. Undoubtedly there are benefits in chocolate that have not yet been discovered in a laboratory. However many people would attest to the fact that they feel good when they have eaten some chocolate. Perhaps we don't really need to know every action of this delicious food. It is good to know though that amongst other nutrients it contains potassium, magnesium and vitamins B1, B2, D and E.

Enjoy good health,