Chocolate consumption has always been a love/hate relationship with the general public. We hear that chocolate is good for us, but then we hear it’s not. We are also told that there are only certain types of chocolate to eat. So what are the benefits of consuming chocolate?
– Chocolate can help reduce your blood pressure. Dark chocolate is nearly as good at reducing blood pressure as popular hypertension meds. Why? Substances called flavonoids (found in chocolate) help decrease blood pressure and reduce blood clotting.
– Chocolate can help alter your mood. Do you have a friend that swears her life is better with a dose of her favorite chocolate? Turns out, she may be right. Chocolate has some serious mood-elevating benefits-and it’s not all in your friend’s head. Rather, the chemicals in dark chocolate serve as real mood boosters and can even ease the symptoms of PMS.
– Eating dark chocolate can help decrease the chance that you’ll suffer a heart attack. Since the flavonoids in cocoa beans help lessen the clotting in your blood, there is a decreased chance of heart blockage occurring.
– Toss that cough syrup and give a dose of dark chocolate instead. Cocoa has a substance in it called theobromine. This element of chocolate can help diminish the severity of a persistent cough-some say even better than typical over-the-counter drugs.
– Finally, the feelings you get after eating dark chocolate are much like those you experience as you fall in love. It’s true. Phenylethylamine in dark chocolate actually prompts feelings that are very much like the sensations that come with falling head over heels.
This all sounds wonderful, of course, but is any chocolate what the doctor ordered? You may be thinking, “Can Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Kisses do all of this for me? Even with all of the sugar and dairy in each one?” The short answer is, “No.” Hershey’s chocolate is most decidedly not going to lower your blood pressure.” To reap the benefits of flavonoids and phenylethylamine, you’ve got to stick with dark chocolate choices. This means choosing a chocolate product that has little to no refined sugar and/or milk fat. Look for dark chocolate with 60% or even more cocoa solids in it. You want to locate a chocolate that is as “raw” as possible. The more processed cocoa becomes (with added sugars, empty calories, and dairy), the more the decrease in positive health benefits.
There is also the worry about the calories in chocolate. Not to worry dieters. The benefits to you are worth the calories. Plus, the caloric content is nowhere near the number that flashed in your head when you hear “chocolate.” For example, Green and Black’s Dark Chocolate (a popular organic brand) has just 260 calories for the entire bar-about double the size of a typical Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar. To get the benefits of dark chocolate doesn’t require you to eat a bar per night. Instead, break off a piece or two, savor, and stop. You will have ingested a mere 25-50 calories-and go to bed smiling like a child on Christmas Eve!