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HEALTH BENEFITS OF CHOCOLATE

It raises serotonin levels and releases endorphins -- chocolate is high in magnesium --it contains small quantities of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid found in the brain.-- chocolate is high in antioxidant flavonoids called flavanols, which include procyanidins, epicatechins, and catechins ---

Recent Research in Epicatechin From Nature: (2003) . Nature 424, 1013. Serafini, M., Bugianesi, R., Maiani, G., Valtuena, S., De Santis, S. and Crozier, A.

"Here we show that consumption of plain, dark chocolate results in an increase in both the total antioxidant capacity and the (-)epicatechin content of blood plasma, but that these effects are markedly reduced when the chocolate is consumed with milk or if milk is incorporated as milk chocolate." . Read more...

Dark chocolate -- not white chocolate -- lowers high blood pressure, say Dirk Taubert, MD, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Cologne, Germany. Blood pressure remained unchanged in the group that ate white chocolate. But in the dark chocolate group, the systolic blood pressure fell an average of five points and the diastolic, an average of two points. Their report appears in the Aug. 27 issue of The Journal of the American Medical Association. --The darker the chocolate, the lower the blood pressure

Dr. Norman K. Hollenberg from Harvard Medical School studied Panamaís Kuna Indians. Members of this indigenous group drink an average of five cups of cocoa a day and cases of high blood pressure are rare. See abstract. And according to a study by Hollandís National Institute of Public Health, chocolate contains four times the antioxidant qualities found in tea. For a 2005 updated review see Flavanols for cardiovascular health: the science behind the sweetness.

Grassi et.al (2005) reports that cocoa reduces blood pressure and insulin resistance and improves endothelium-dependent vasodilation in hypertensives. Consumption of flavanol-rich dark chocolate (DC) has been shown to decrease blood pressure (BP) and insulin resistance in healthy subjects, suggesting similar benefits in patients with essential hypertension (EH).

Dr. Kris-Etherton says: "My research shows that a diet containing about an ounce of chocolate a day increases good cholesterol and prevents bad cholesterol from oxidizing, a process that may lead to heart disease,".See abstract It's okay to eat dark chocolate in small amounts, as long as you eat an otherwise healthy diet and can afford the calories," Dr. Kris-Etherton says. "Try eating it with nuts or fruit for more good fats and even more antioxidants." But don't use chocolate as a stand-in for fat-free fruits and veggies. It just doesn't work that way. An ounce of dark chocolate can contain a whopping 11 g of fat, so you have to compromise elsewhere in your diet to make room for the calories. But if you eat your 1-oz piece of chocolate slowly and mindfully, it should satisfy your most serious chocolate cravings, which can help you stick to a healthy eating plan.

Joe Vinson, PhD, professor of chemistry at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, says: "think real cocoa". He has found that pure cocoa powder (not the instant hot chocolate type) has the most antioxidants, followed by dark chocolate (see best chocolate bars) , then milk chocolate. See abstract

Vlachopoulos et.al (2005) Effect of dark chocolate on arterial function in healthy individuals. Their study shows for the first time that consumption of dark chocolate acutely decreases wave reflections, that it does not affect aortic stiffness, and that it may exert a beneficial effect on endothelial function in healthy adults. Chocolate consumption may exert a protective effect on the cardiovascular system; further studies are warranted to assess any long-term effects.

Chocolate contains small quantities of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid found in the brain. The same is true of anandamide, the current favourite candidate for a psychoactive chocolate ingredient. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that targets the same brain structures as THC, the active ingredient in cannabis. But to make a substantial impact on the brain's own natural anandamide levels, experts estimate you would need to eat several kilos of chocolate! Neuroscientist Daniele Piomelli (Neuroscience and Behavior Program, Department of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA ) suggests that chocolate works more indirectly to produce its 'high'. As well as anandamide itself, chocolate contains two chemicals known to slow the breakdown of anandamide. Chocolate might therefore work by prolonging the action of this natural stimulant in the brain.

Like other palatable sweet foods, consumption of chocolate triggers the release of endorphins, the body's endogenous opiates. Enhanced endorphin-release reduces the chocolate-eater's sensitivity to pain. Endorphins probably contribute to the warm inner glow induced in susceptible chocaholics.

Also, eating chocolate neither causes nor aggravate acne, as is the general belief. In fact recent research has shown that eating chocolate or not eating it does not produce any significant changes in the acne conditions in human beings. However, as in the case of any other food, eating too much of chocolate may cause health problems.

Just remember, chocolate is high in calories and eating too much therefore make you fat, increasing your risk of heart disease. Over eating of chocolate can also lead to obesity. And, the cocoa butter in chocolate does contain saturated fat, which can increase blood cholesterol levels, and high cholesterol may contribute to heart disease.

(2010) Potential Benefit of Dark Chocolate for Liver Disease Patients

According to the Spanish research, eating dark chocolate reduces damage to the blood vessels of cirrhotic patients and also lowers blood pressure in the liver according to new research presented April 15 at the International Liver CongressTM 2010, the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Liver in Vienna, Austria. read more

MINERAL COMPONENTS OF CHOCOLATE

Chocolate also contains a variety of minerals that are essential to good nutrition. These include calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, zinc and copper. Each of these minerals plays important roles in a variety of biological functions, including growth, bone formation, metabolism and oxygen transport within the blood. Mineral values in milk and dark chocolate are as follows:

For the United States

MineralMilk Chocolate Bar
(1.3 oz)
Dark Chocolate Bar
(1.3 oz)
Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)*
Calcium84.04 mg14.25 mg1,000 mg
Phosphorous95.04 mg58.77 mg1,000 mg
Magnesium26.4 mg51 mg400 mg
Iron0.61 mg1.38 mg18 mg
Zinc0.6 mg0.71 mg15 mg
Copper0.169 mg0.3 mg 2.0 mg

*RDI's -- www.vm.cfscan.fda.gov/~lrd/




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