May 2021
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Chocolate and Health

Chocolate. It is a guilty pleasure and for many, a way of life. Chocolates are around us every day as a gift to say “I care”, a cure for stress, or the perfect dessert. We like it hot or cold, solid or liquid. Coming in every shape, size, and conceivable form, it is hard to avoid. Chocolate is full of compounds, such as serotonin, endorphins, and phenylethylamine, that research has shown improve moods. A scientific study recently found that eating chocolate actually lights up more parts of your brain than kissing does. These factors and its addictive nature make it no surprise that chocolate is turned to for day to day relief.

We use chocolate to help us feel better on a hard day, but after a chocolate binge we often feel guilty for our over-consumption or dread getting on that scale.

The problem is that most of the great tasting milk chocolates are pumped full of extra sugars and fats. Health conscious people are often trying to minimize or at least regulate their intake.

Chocolate, however, is not all bad.

In the past, chocolate has been considered a natural remedy. The Mayans were known to drink it as a cure for fatigue. They also believed it to be an aphrodisiac. Today we know that the fatigue part was correct at least. Chocolate contains theobromine. This stimulates the heart more than caffeine with less impact on the body.

Chocolate also contains potent antioxidants. These antioxidants prevent cell damage, and in turn are preventative of many diseases such as heart disease and macular degeneration. Antioxidants are also useful in treating brain injuries. Both dark and milk chocolates contain levels of antioxidants that are more powerful than those found in other health foods. Dark chocolate’s antioxidants are about twice as powerful as those found in milk chocolate.

Beyond this, chocolate naturally gives you energy, helps you to relax and de-stress, and can even lessen physical pain. It has been found to create anti-cancer, cough prevention, and anti-diarrheal effects as well as stimulating the brain. Recent research has praised chocolate in helping to lower high blood pressure. Dark chocolates with their antioxidants are especially good for you and have been promoted by many diets because of the benefits to the circulatory system and the heart. It contains flavonoids which naturally thin the blood to reduce risks of clots. Issues like chronic fatigue, cardiovascular disease, and heart attacks are found to decrease with moderate intake.

The solution to the chocolate dilemma is to choose wisely the chocolate you eat and eat in moderation. Dark chocolates are healthier with less sugar and more antioxidants. There are also new chocolates that are specially developed to include vitamins or boost energy. This way you can feed your craving, enjoy the chocolate taste, and get in your essential vitamins so you don’t have to feel guilty afterwards.

Whatever form you choose, a balanced diet is key. In moderation, chocolate can be your friend and help you achieve your health goals.

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