Chocolate Can be Healthy, as Long as it is the Right Kind
Can chocolate have negative effects on a person’s health? Absolutely, if it’s not the right kind of chocolate. Sure, the chocolate candies you might find in the supermarket can induce weight gain, increase diabetes risk, and cause many other problems, but not all chocolate is bad. In fact, chocolate can be really good for you as long as it’s pure, and at least 70% cacao.
High-quality dark chocolate is loaded with vitamins A, B1, B2, D, and E as well as magnesium, healthy fats and flavonoids. The flavonoids found in quality chocolate improve blood flow and lipid oxidation.
The Importance of Flavonoids
Flavonoids are powerful, plant-based antioxidants that reduce inflammation, help fight aging, and promote healthy arteries. Found in fruits and vegetables as well as tea, red wine and dark chocolate, flavonoids are highly beneficial to our overall health.
Researchers conducted a double-blind cross-over study where participants drank cocoa with either a high flavonoid content or a low flavonoid content and then switched. Blood flavanol levels, flow-mediated dilation of blood vessels, and nitric oxide production were measured each hour until six hours after drinking the cocoa. When participants drank the high flavonol drink, their blood contained a high level of healthy flavanols. This indicated that the body absorbs and uses the flavanols found in chocolate shortly after they are consumed.
Dark Chocolate is No Danger
Contrary to what some people may think, dark chocolate is not unhealthy, especially when consumed in moderation. In fact, while once considered a threat to the heart, dark chocolate is actually beneficial to not only the heart but also the brain. In one Italian study, researchers found that 6.7 grams of chocolate a day can reduce inflammation that leads to heart disease. In other research, dark chocolate was found to help the body lower blood sugar naturally. What’s more, flavonols help to improve blood flow to the brain which in turn boosted cognitive alertness.
It is essential, however, that only 100% organic dark chocolate with no artificial ingredients or additives be consumed. Read the label carefully before you eat your chocolate and keep your healthy indulgence to a few small squares a day.