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Chocolate has gotten a lot of press and media coverage over the last decade. And the reason is that the cocoa bean is rich in plant nutrients called flavonoids. Flavonoids help protect plants from environmental toxins and repair damage. Flavonoids appear in a variety of fruits and vegetables. When we eat foods high in flavonoids, we are also benefiting from antioxidants. Antioxidants help the body’s cells resist damage caused by free radicals that are formed by normal bodily functions, like breathing and from environmental contaminants like cigarette smoke and pollution.
This however does not give you the green light to eat an unlimited amount of chocolate. Before you grab chocolate candy or a slice of chocolate cake, it very important to understand that not all forms of chocolate contain high levels of flavonoids.
Most commercial chocolates are highly processed. However, manufacturers are looking for ways to keep high levels of flavonoids in their chocolate. It was once believed that dark chocolate contained the highest levels of flavonoids. However, this all depends on the way in which the dark chocolate was processed. So, be sure to do your research and read the labels.
With that being said, and until more research has been done, dark chocolate is the better choice over milk chocolate. Eating a small amount of dark chocolate 2 or 3 times a day can help lower your blood pressure. It improves blood flow and may help prevent blood clots. It may also help prevent hardening of the arteries.
Dark chocolate can affect your mood and cognitive health. Chocolate contains phenylethylomine (PEA), the chemical that your brain creates when you feel like you are falling in love, so eating dark chocolate can actually make you feel happier.
The flavonoids in dark chocolate also help reduce insulin resistance and regain the ability to use your body’s insulin efficiently providing protection against Type 2 diabetes.
Dark chocolate contains caffeine, a mild stimulant much less than coffee. 1.5 ounce bar of dark chocolate contains 27 mg. of caffeine as compared to 200 mg. found in an 8 ounce cup of coffee.
Dark chocolate can protect you from many types of cancer and slow the signs of aging. It also contains theobromine, which hardens tooth enamel, potassium, copper magnesium and iron.
Eating dark chocolate that contains high levels of cocoa flavonoids may boost eyesight and brain health by improving blood flow to the retina and brain. The effects may last for several hours after consumption.
Although dark chocolate has been discovered to have healthy benefits, remember it also is high in fat so eating it in moderation is key.