My friend Joan has been extolling the virtues of 70% dark chocolate for years. I have never really been a big fan of chocolate (no, really.) But on a recent trip to Nashville, Joan brought a few types of Green and Black's Organic Chocolate (like that pictured below) and it was GOOD! I did a little research on the subject and here's what I found:
excerpted from: http://longevity.about.com/od/lifelongnutrition/p/chocolate.htm
Why is Dark Chocolate Healthy?:
Chocolate is made from plants, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are from flavonoids, which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from aging caused by free radicals, which can cause damage that leads to heart disease. Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries). Flavonoids also help relax blood pressure through the production of nitric oxide, and balance certain hormones in the body.
Heart Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate:
Dark chocolate is good for your heart. A small bar of it everyday can help keep your heart and cardiovascular system running well. Two heart health benefits of dark chocolate are:
Lower Blood Pressure:
Studies have shown that consuming a small bar of dark chocolate everyday can reduce blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure.
Dark chocolate has also been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol) by up to 10 percent.
Other Benefits of Dark Chocolate:
Chocolate also holds benefits apart from protecting your heart:
- it tastes good
- it stimulates endorphin production, which gives a feeling of pleasure
- it contains serotonin, which acts as an anti-depressant
- it contains theobromine, caffeine and other substances which are stimulants
- Doesn't Chocolate Have a lot of Fat?:
- Here is some more good news -- some of the fats in chocolate do not impact your cholesterol. The fats in chocolate are 1/3 oleic acid, 1/3 stearic acid and 1/3 palmitic acid:
Oleic Acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is also found in olive oil.
Stearic Acid is a saturated fat but one which research is shows has a neutral effect on cholesterol.
Palmitic Acid is also a saturated fat, one which raises cholesterol and heart disease risk.
That means only 1/3 of the fat in dark chocolate is bad for you.
So there you have it, folks. Eat chocolate, reap the benefits, and live guilt free. I bought this at the corner deli and have made 3 squares a day my afternoon treat with coffee. Mmmmmmmm. Life is good!