Although chocolate has been much maligned-either as a cause of acne or a reason for cavity-that’s good news for chocolate lovers. Recent research indicates that certain types of chocolate can be good for you-if eaten in moderation
Chocolate is. . derived from beans that grow in pods on the cacao trees. Although these plants originating in Central and South America, they have since been introduced to the equator regions, including the Caribbean, Africa, Southeast Asia and the South Pacific.
Chocolate contains high levels of polyphenols called flavonoids. Flavonoids are naturally occurring substances found in plant-based foods. Other foods rich in flavonoids include fruits like cranberries and apples, vegetables like onions, spinach and asparagus, tea, and red wine. Flavonoids, as other polyphenols are examples of antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that can prevent damage to body cells and repair existing cell damage.
Chocolate comes in a variety of types. The three main types are dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate. Dark chocolate has the largest amount of cocoa solids (up to 75 percent). Milk chocolate is chocolate that has been combined with milk. It contains up to 20 percent cocoa solids. White chocolate is derived from sweetened cocoa butter mixed with milk. It contains no cocoa solids. Dark chocolate is the kind of chocolate often associated with health benefits. Dark chocolate has the most flavonoids of all the different types of chocolate. Research shows that treatment removes flavonoids from chocolate.
Heart Disease Prevention
Research at the University of California-Davis indicates that the high number of flavonoids found in dark chocolate helps reduce the risk of heart disease. Flavonoids in chocolate prevent blood fats from oxidizing and clogging arteries. A study published in Nature indicated that antioxidant chocolate fight the free radicals associated with heart disease and related health problems. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that a diet supplemented with dark chocolate resulted in small reductions in bad cholesterol (LDL) levels, a condition which in turn can lead to a decrease in clogged arteries.
lower blood pressure
Research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that dark chocolate lowers blood pressure. A separate study in the Netherlands showed that men who regularly ate cocoa products had lower blood pressure and were less likely to die of heart disease than those who do not regularly consume chocolate products. Other research shows that flavonoids help blood vessels to be flexible. Another scientific study shows that chocolate has a quality similar to aspirin to prevent blood clots.
Although dark chocolate has been shown to prevent heart disease, does not mean that you can eat chocolate with abandon. Because chocolate is a high-calorie foods that are rich in saturated fat, it should be eaten in moderation.