It seems like every few years MUSHROOM CHOCOLATE BARS food researchers find health benefits for everyday foods, now even chocolate. Many people already know that fresh fruits, teas, and red wines are loaded with natural ingredients that help in minimizing disease, but did you know that chocolate can do the same? Researchers say that consuming one ounce of dark chocolate daily, about 135 – 150 calories, can help you live longer, enhance the flow of cardiovascular and circulatory systems, and improve production of certain hormones.
Chocolate is made from the cacao plant which is rich in flavonoids. Flavonoids are plant-derived antioxidants found in the skin pigments and seeds of dark-colored plants. Why is this important? Inside the body, antioxidants help repair damage caused by free radicals that cause tissue damage and trigger disease. Antioxidants are mostly known to reduce aging.
Dark chocolate holds most of these beneficial properties, more so than its sweet cousins, milk chocolate and white chocolate. The sugar and milk used in the process of making these two less bitter affects the chocolate health benefits by reducing the flavonoid concentration. White chocolate actually contains zero flavonoids. When eating, it is best to stick to a chocolate that has a high percentage of cocoa (65% or higher), or stick to natural unsweetened cocoa powder when baking or making chocolate drinks.
The health benefits of chocolate are mainly centered around the heart. Various studies have concluded that snacking on 1 oz. of dark chocolate everyday can increase blood flow and prevent heart related diseases. Similar to aspirin, the flavonoids in chocolate makes blood platelets less likely to clump together, which means 2 things – blood clots will occur less often and the chance of suffering a heart attack is theoretically reduced.
Research has also found blood pressure to be more stable in those who ate chocolate more regularly than those who did not. The research proves that antioxidants enter blood vessel linings allowing them to expand and contract more freely so blood can travel throughout the body effortlessly.
Aside from promoting a healthy heart, chocolate has been found to add to the production of hormones and other chemicals in the body as well. In healthy people, dark chocolate helps combat insulin resistance. Insulin sensitivity prevents cells from using insulin to aid in turning blood sugar into energy.