Cacao – the main ingredient in dark chocolate – is chock full of beneficial chemicals, such as flavonoids and theobromine, and effectively quashes both diseases and ailments alike.
The only issue is that unadulterated cacao is bitter, chalky, and a little less than appetizing, but adding the beloved milk, sugar, and butter that make it so yummy isn’t the healthiest move to make. That’s because these ingredients, apart from being calorically dense, also weaken the benefits of cacao.
A good rule of thumb is to stick with chocolate that has at least 70% cacao or cocoa, which is just cacao in its roasted and ground form. Mary Engler, Ph.D. and professor of physiological nursing at the University at San Francisco, says that high cacao content means that you can consume just a small amount of chocolate and still garner the beneficial aspects it offers. With its high fat and sugar, chocolate intake shouldn’t exceed seven ounces – about four dark chocolate bars – each week.
Recently released research based off of a nine-year Swedish study of over 31,000 women indicated that those who ate one or two servings of dark chocolate weekly reduced their risk of heart failure by up to a third.
Another study based in Germany suggested that a square of dark chocolate on the daily has the capacity to lower blood pressure as well as the threat of heart attack and stroke – by a whopping 39%. The ingredient that protects as well as super heroes? Flavonoids, or antioxidant compounds that increase the flexibility of veins and arteries. And if you think an apple a day keeps the doctor away, keep in mind that chocolate has 5 times the flavonoids of the famed fruit.
The lifesaving duo, though, is chocolate paired with exercise. According to the findings of an Australian research study, eating chocolate high in healthy antioxidants reduces the blood-pressure raising effects of exercise on individuals who are overweight.
Dark chocolate, which is more filling than the lighter and milky version, curbs cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods – according to research conducted at the University of Copenhagen. This means a diet containing a little dark chocolate will make it easier to be strict about small portions, while reducing the temptation to indulge in unhealthy foods.
Women who chowed down on some chocolate every day during their pregnancy were supposedly better able to cope with stress than those expectant mothers who didn’t. Another study indicated that women who ate chocolate felt their babies were happier and smiled more. Trading a little chocolate for a baby who cries less? We think you can handle it.
It may seem contradictory, but those who ate a candy bar of chocolate every day for once a day for 15 days saw their potential for insulin resistance drop by almost half, since flavonoids increase nitric oxide production, which helps to control insulin sensitivity.
Swiss scientists discovered that anxious people who ate an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks lowered their stress hormone levels significantly, while alleviating the metabolic havoc that stress can wreak. So go ahead, bite into a bar and relax a little.
The flavonoids in chocolate supposedly thwart sunburns from taking their toll. A London research project revealed that three months of consuming chocolate with high levels of flavonoids make skin take twice as long to start reddening.
Grabbing a bar of chocolate rich in flavonoids can boost blood flow to essential parts of the brain for up to three hours, improving performance and upping alertness, making your cognition function at its best.
A Spoonful of Sugar
Doesn’t just make the medicine go down, but is the medicine itself: one study showed that chocolate has the ability to quiet coughs as well as codeine, because of the theobromine it contains, which can suppress activity in the brain’s vagus nerve. We bet you’ll like the taste better than cough syrup, too.
As one of the “Best of Baltimore,” Wockenfuss literally has the best chocolate in the area to keep you happy and healthy; come out and try this cure-all remedy for yourself.
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