All chocolate lovers have a reason to smile — chocolate is actually good for you! In other words, chocolate is a brain food!
Since chocolate comes from a plant it actually has the same antioxidant benefits as dark green vegetables, and dark chocolate has nearly eight times the number of antioxidants found in strawberries — another brain food. Antioxidants protect the body from aging, brain cell death, cancers and cardiovascular diseases caused by free radicals that are produced through normal digestion.
Over thirty-three thousand Swedish woman took part in study conducted by the Karolinska Institute, and published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Over the course of 10 years, researchers found that those who ate the most chocolate had the lowest chance of strokes. It didn’t make a difference whether the chocolate was dark or light, the women who eat a bar of chocolate a week reduced their risk of stroke by 20%, while those who ate 8 grams or less a week were at the highest risk. Over the course of ten years, 1,600 of the 33,372 women in the study suffered strokes. These findings go along with previous studies that indicate the health benefits of eating chocolate and cocoa (the protective agent in chocolate).
Another study, conducted at Cambridge University, found that regular doses of chocolate could reduce the risk of heart disease by a third. A separate study suggests chocolate could be as good for your health as exercise!
A small bar of chocolate every day can help to keep your heart and cardiovascular system running well. It can lower your blood pressure, and reduce the bad cholesterol by up to 10%. In addition, your body experiences pleasure because chocolate stimulates endorphin production; contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant; and has stimulants that keep your body in motion
You are probably asking how much fat is in chocolate, and isn’t that bad for you. Well, only about 1/3 of the fat in chocolate is bad for you. Chocolate contains three kinds of fats: oleic acid; stearic acid; and palmitic acid. Oleic acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat — the same found in olive oil. Stearic acid is a saturated fat that has a neutral effect on cholesterol. Palmitic acid is a saturated fat that does raise cholesterol and cause heart disease — the only 1/3 of the fat that is bad for you in chocolate.
Now this doesn’t mean you can gorge yourself on too much chocolate. It is still a high-fat, high-calorie food. The studies above did not use more than 3.5 ounces and the average candy bar has around 400 calories. By eating ½ a bar a day you can balance it with 200 calories less in another area of your diet. That also means that, in order to control yourself from the desire to eat more you should try to enjoy each bite and savor the moment.
It’s great to know that you don’t have to do without one of life’s greatest pleasures in order to keep your body and brain healthy. In moderation you can enjoy your daily dose of chocolate and save your heart — A double whammy!
Note: The studies done were only on women, but researchers are currently working on studies that include men, and expect to find similar results.
Memoryzine.com – Stroke Of Luck? Chocolate Might Be As Good As Exercise For Some: http://memoryzine.com/2011/10/12/stroke-of-luck-chocolate-might-be-as-good-as-exercise/
Cleveland Clinic – The Sweet Truth About Chocolate and Your Heart: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart/prevention/nutrition/chocolate.aspx
Sweet Chocolate — Brain Food That Makes You Smile!