Dark Chocolate and Health
Dark chocolate has been hailed as one of the healthiest foods available today. The health benefits of dark chocolate include improved circulation, lower cholesterol, decreased risk for heart disease, improved cognitive function, improved immune response, reduced the risk for certain cancers, and much more. These claims have been supported by numerous studies. However, are there actually any weight loss benefits associated with dark chocolate? Or is it just another sweet to add to our diets?
Although it has no calories per calories, dark chocolate does have high amounts of some fats that contribute to weight gain. These fats are not the bad kinds, but the good kind, like those found in fish and nuts. Milk chocolate, another kind of dark chocolate, has relatively few calories but has almost twice the amount of calories per serving. This makes milk chocolate an even bigger culprit for weight gain than dark chocolate.
Dark chocolate, according to recent studies, has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease. Why? It contains flavonoid polyphenols, or phytochemicals, which have been shown to reduce the risk of both type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Flavonoids have been proven to reduce cholesterol and fat buildup, which can reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and heart disease. The phytochemicals may also reduce blood pressure, although more studies are needed to confirm these claims.
Dark chocolate has also been found to increase endurance. Because dark chocolate allows more glucose to enter the muscles, it boosts endurance. In fact, recent studies have suggested that this small boost to the immune system is what helps ward off colds and flu. This higher percentage of cocoa solids in the diet seems to be enough to counter the high amounts of sugar that many Americans consume on a daily basis. When the body needs energy, it resorts to stored carbohydrates for short-term bursts, resulting in both weight gain and an increase in the amount of calories needed to maintain normal weight.
As delicious as dark chocolate is, you don’t want to overindulge. It contains about 70 percent of the average amount of sugar found in soda pop, which is about two teaspoons worth. If you follow a healthy diet and keep your portions low, you should be able to keep your blood pressure and weight in check without having to worry about adding too much sugar to your diet. If you have health problems or are pregnant, limit your sugar intake to one or two teaspoon every day. This amount is significantly lower than the nearly three teaspoons of sugar that is contained in the typical 8-ounce cup of coffee.
You might not think of dark chocolate as a food because of its name, but this delicious treat has a number of health benefits. Antioxidants are an important part of any diet, but it is particularly important to include dark chocolate in your routine. Antioxidants can counter the affects of chronic diseases and can also reduce the likelihood of cancer. These properties make dark chocolate a powerful agent in combating the effects of aging, helping to slow the aging process and prevent damage to the cells in our body.