Health Benefits of Eating Chocolate
By Damon Marturion
New Business News Staff Writer
Is Chocolate Healthy? The Health Benefits of Eating Chocolate
Recent studies have shown that eating chocolate may actually be good for you. Researchers have found that raw and/or minimally processed cocoa contains flavonoids similar to those found in green tea. According to preliminary studies, these antioxidants have been linked to help accomplish the following:
- Decrease blood pressure
- Improve circulation
- Lower death rate from heart disease
- Improve function of endothelial cells that line the blood vessels
- Defend against destructive molecules called free radicals, which trigger cancer, heart disease and stroke
- Improve Digestion and stimulate kidneys
- Has been used to help treat patients with anemia, kidney stones and poor appetite
There are two different kinds of flavonoids called catechin and epicatechins. Catechins, which have recently been found to be abundant in cocoa and minimally processed chocolates could also help prevent heart disease and possibly cancer, as well as boosting the immune system, according to recent studies. Dark chocolate has also recently been found to contain more than 3 times the amount of catechins as that found in tea. Chocolate is also a good source of copper and magnesium, which helps to regulate heartbeat and blood pressure.
Of course eating large amounts of chocolate is still bad for you and could cause weight gain. But, taken in smaller quantities, it could prove to be very beneficial to your health. It all depends on the quantity and the type of chocolate that you are eating. There have been many different studies showing the possible effects of chocolate consumption on groups of participants.
One such study by the associated press entitled 'Study: Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure' printed on August 27, 2003 which appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association included 13 adults with untreated mild hypertension. Each of them ate 3-ounce chocolate bars every day for two weeks. Half of them received white chocolate while the other half got dark chocolate. Blood pressure was shown to be relatively unchanged for those who ate the white chocolate, but the dark chocolate eaters' blood pressure showed changes. Their systolic blood pressure dropped an average of 5 points and their diastolic reading dropped an average of nearly two points.
In another study conducted at Pennsylvania State University by study leader Penny Kris-Etherton, a group of participants, split into two groups, ate the same low fat diet except for one of the groups got a chocolate bar and the other group received a high-carb snack. The groups later switched snacks. Total blood cholesterol and LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels didn't vary with either snack. But, increases in HDL ("good") cholesterol and reductions in triglycerides (a heart-risky type of blood fat) were found in the people eating chocolate.
However, it is important to note that these health benefits are seen for people who eat traditional chocolate bars that include minimal amounts of heavily processed cocoa that have been blended with large amounts of sugars, dairy products, and artificial flavorings. But rather, to benefit from eating chocolate, one should be eating dark chocolates that have a high percentage of cocoa content. Even more beneficial to one's health is to eat cocoa is the crudest format possible.
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