Friday, February 26, 2016

Benefits of Chocolate


Calling all chocolate lovers: chocolate offers sweet benefits besides satisfying a craving. We've created a list of six benefits you get from eating chocolate.

There are compounds in cocoa beans known as flavonoids; these are plant metabolites that have antioxidant effects in the body. The flavonoids found in chocolate are called flavanols. There are multiple types of flavanols, each offering different antioxidant effects. Dark chocolate has the highest content of flavanols with 40-80 percent, and milk chocolate much less with 5-7 percent. The loss of flavanols in chocolate is due to the amount of processing the chocolate goes through.

Dark chocolate has the highest content of flavanols with 40-80 percent, and milk chocolate much less with 5-7 percent.The more processed the chocolate — the less benefits it has.

Before moving into the benefits, there are a couple of basic ideas to keep in mind before you consume.

The darker the better-milk chocolate has a lot of added sugar and ingredients that will dilute the healthy properties. A good idea of how dark is 70 percent or higher, anything less has a higher chance of being diluted.Moderation-while eating chocolate has health benefits, consuming in excess will be counterproductive. Recommended serving sizes from studies vary from 6g a day to no more than 20g a day, both very different in comparison. A normal serving size that fits into your daily diet would be a safe bet.Not every form of chocolate has beneficial properties-liquid forms and white chocolate do not possess health benefits. This is due to their heavy processing and end cocoa content.

Now...on to the benefits! 
1. Blood flow and circulation: There's a compound found in cocoa known as a polyphenol (a compound similar to a flavonoid) that has been shown to promote better blood flow. This is due to polyphenols promoting your body's effort to mediate oxidative stress.

2. Mood and immune health: Dark chocolate helps produce serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter in the brain. This increase can promote endorphin production, which may elevate your mood and possibly increase immune system health.

3. Stress levels: Researchers found that chocolate helped lower stress by improving oxidative stress as mentioned above. Oxidative stress is when there is an imbalance of free radicals in the body and our body's ability to fend them off.

4. Weight management: Moderation is important here; consuming dark chocolate in small amounts may help satiation (fullness) and happiness in a diet. This may help prevent binge eating from overwhelming cravings.

5. Mineral content: Dark chocolate contains favorable amounts of minerals such as potassium, selenium, zinc and iron.

6. Skin health: Flavanols in chocolate may help protect the skin from free radicals because of their antioxidant like properties.

When making your next chocolate choice make sure you opt for dark chocolate to relish the health benefits cocoa has to offer.

References(1) Sunni, A. A. & Latif, R. (2014). Effects of chocolate intake on Perceived Stress; a Controlled Clinical Study. International Journal of Health Sciences, 8(4): 393-401(2) Sorenson, L. B. & Astrup, A. (2011). Eating dark and milk chocolate: A randomized crossover study of effects on appetite and energy intake. Nutrition and Diabetes, 1(12): 21(3) Aubrey, A. (2016, Jan 26th) How Dark Chocolate, Not Milk Chocolate, May Help Blood Flow Univ of Michigan, (2016, Jan 26th) Healing Foods Pyramid, Dark Chocolate.