On a random day, the unspoken gift that says, “I love you” is often chocolate. It’s more than just a guilty pleasure. The need and desire for just a small block, a mere one ounce, can be defined as a means of healing. It eases stress levels, headaches, and reduces hunger pains. While the research continues, dark chocolate is a super food. The compounds found in cocoa can help resist the effects of aging and stress, prevent strokes, regulate blood pressure, and provide a significant list of other health benefits. By checking the percentages for low sugar and high cocoa content, you can sing the praises and continue your love of dark chocolate. (Although, the rules still apply. Moderation in eating chocolate is best!)
What Have Studies Revealed?
Dark chocolate’s organic compounds, namely polyphenols, flavanols and catchins, are biologically active and function as a high source of antioxidants. In fact, it tested to contain more antioxidants than any other fruit, including blueberries and cranberries. The fatty acids found within cocoa are mostly saturated and monounsaturated, which help to define its excellent nutrition value. Similar to any chocolate, the best contains 70 to 85% cocoa with minimal sugar, and will provide you the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of the following soluble fiber and minerals:
- 11 grams of fiber
- 98% manganese: Helps promote a healthy bone structure, bone metabolism, and creates enzymes for building bones.
- 89% copper: Is an essential trace mineral necessary for survival. While it helps the formation of collagen, it also builds our “energy” levels.
- 67% iron: Without iron, we would feel fatigued. It produces hemoglobin and red blood cells.
- 58% magnesium: Calms the nerves while increasing our energy levels, and is necessary for heart health.
- It also includes potassium (relief from a stroke), phosphorus (bone formation), zinc (boosts the immune system), and selenium (important for cognitive function).
Lowers Cholesterol and Blood Pressure: Dark chocolate has something termed flavanols, which is a plant-based nutrient only found naturally in cocoa. Studies have proven the flavanols have the ability to reduce the “bad fats” in low-density lipoprotein, LDL cholesterol levels; therefore, dark chocolate can support cardiovascular health by improving blood flow, which can assist many functions, such as increasing insulin levels and lowering both cholesterol and blood pressure. (Clinical trials suggest the results do not affect everyone in the same way. While some patients showed significant improvement, others had mild results.)
Improve Cognitive Function: It sounds soothing to think two cups of hot chocolate, daily, could maintain brain health and reduce memory decline, especially in elders. Researchers discovered a cocoa extract, called lavado, could assist in the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. Also, combining increased blood flow to areas of the brain can also boost energy levels. (Studies are not complete, and research for this type of natural treatment continue.)
Fetal Growth to Lessen Stress Levels: All ages and body conditions can benefit from eating and drinking dark chocolate. It is claimed that 30 grams of chocolate daily can benefit both fetal growth and development. And, the mothers reported they, too, felt the effects of better handling stress and feeling a sense of calm. Could it be a coincidence that babies who received the nutrition from the womb were happier and much healthier than those whose mothers did not have a daily dose of dark chocolate?
Affected by a break-up or deeply stressed, perhaps, the answer is to reach for dark chocolate. It is proven to reduce not only metabolic effects of stress, but to also encourage weight loss.
Improving the Taste: It all sounds absolutely wonderful. And, the list of benefits presented is not complete. One problem you will quickly discover is that while you can devour a milk chocolate bar in seconds, the taste of premium dark chocolate is bitter and chalky. The solution is drinking hot chocolate, making dark chocolate muffins or bread, or dipping apple slices into the melted chocolate. There are any number of creative ways and recipes found online to maintain your claim of being a chocolate-lover.
Give Chocolate With LOVE! It’s simple why chocolate and flowers are the signature gift for lovers, especially on Valentine’s Day. This year, remind your love that you desire a health food…. premium dark chocolate! Perhaps, this Valentine’s day, you can create a recipe that both of you will say, “Mmmmm, delicious!” all year long!