Proven Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate

Chocolate Can Keep You Very Healthy!

Known as food of the gods, chocolate is a symbol of luxury, wealth and richness since ancient times. This food that originated in America is extracted from the cocoa tree seeds and is one of the best sources of the antioxidants available in the world. Chocolate was also earlier used as a currency due to its richness.

The Spanish priests even happened to prescribe chocolate as a substitute food during periods of fasting. due to the extensive energy levels gained by eating chocolates.

A Stress Buster
The tryptophan in chocolate helps in the secretion of serotonin which acts as a natural anti-depressant and improves the quality of sleep and increases appetite. Dark chocolate is also beneficial in reducing stress levels in mothers-to-be and the babies born to mothers who had a moderate amount of dark chocolate regularly, are known to be happier. The phenylethylamine in chocolate stimulates the secretion of feel good endorphins and thus keeps one excited and relieves from stress.

Antioxidant Effects
Dark chocolate ¡s rich in antioxidants like polyphenols. flavonols, catechins, phytosterols, proanthocyanidins and epicatechins etc. The foods with abundant amount of antioxidants which fight inflammatory conditions, infections, and even cancer are termed as superfoods. It would therefore be sate to say that dark chocolate and cocoa powder, are probably the next supertoods.

Good For The Heart
The magnesium in chocolates helps in lowering blood pressure and thus protects the heart. The epicatechins in chocolate lowers LDL cholesterol, which is termed as a bad oxidized form of cholesterol and consequently prevents clot formation in the heart vessels. Also, the flavonols found In chocolate act as a stimulator for secretion of nitric oxide from the endothelium of arteries, which acts as a relaxant and therefore reduces the resistance to blood flow in the heart vessels and as a result decreases blood pressure.

Eat chocolate All day and lose half a stone in two weeks

Cough Suppressant
Dark chocolate is highly rich in the obromine which acts as a natural cough suppressant by suppressing the irritablity of the vagus nerve and does not cause a sedative effect unlike the common codeine-rich cough suppressants. The theophylline and minimum amounts of caffeine found in chocolate helps in reducing bronchospasm of the alveoli of lungs and thus relives from asthma.

Prevents Diabetes
The antioxidants in chocolate prevent the early onset of type 2 diabetes and also improves insulin sensitivity. Dark chocolate helps in controlling unhealthy cravings as this high energy yielding food helps in keeping one full for a long time. Chocolate also has a good amount of enzymes that help in breaking the unwanted tat deposits in the body.

Boosts Skin Glow
Who doesn’t want to have an ever glowing, younger looking skin? A piece of dark chocolate twice or thrice a week helps in keeping your skin safe from all the damage that might occur due to exposure to ultraviolet rays. The hidden mechanism is that the antioxidant flavonol reduces the stress hormones secretion, which results in the breakdown of the collagen of skin. Flavonol also improves the blood flow to the skin and thus increases hydration.

Acts As An Aphrodisiac
Chocolate also contains certain chemicals which help in increasing desire and passion. The feel-good endorphins are secreted by eating chocolate which in turn help in relaxing, relieving stress and a burst of abundant energy levels to improve sexual prowess.

Excellent For The Brain
Blood flow to brain is improved by eating dark chocolate and consequently the brain gets a healthy dose. In women, the risk of stroke too is prevented. Regular intake of dark chocolate helps in reduction of inflammatory reactions in the brain cells, thus preventing memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease etc.

Fights Cancer
Pentamenc procyanidin present in dark chocolate fights with cancer cells and prevents them from multiplying faster. It therefore, helps in increasing the life expectancy in patients suffering from cancer.

Iron Rich
The high amount of iron in chocolate helps In preventing anaemia and is more beneficial for pregnant women.

Important Tip
It is always safe to choose dark chocolate with a minimum amount of about 70 per cent of cocoa content to obtain all the health benefits of chocolate. People with migraine should be cautious before having more of dark chocolate as it may increase the migraine attacks. Moderation is best as even the dark chocolate has a good amount of fat in it. A piece of dark chocolate two-three times a week will keep you healthy.

Nutritive Facts
The total amount of calories obtained from a l00 grams of chocolate (dark chocolate) is about 170 calories and a normal milk chocolate (which is full of sugar and fat) is about 560 calories. Dark chocolate contains many nutrients like fibre, iron, magnesium. copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus. zinc, selenium, protein and fats (saturated and monounsaturated).

Can Chocolate Get You ‘In The Mood?’

Chocolate was thought of as an aphrodisiac by both the Mayan and Aztec cultures, 1500 years ago. They were of the opinion that it invigorated men and made women less inhibited. The Aztec emperor, Monteczuma used to drink fifty golden goblets of chocolate a day, in order to enhance his sexual ability! Hence, chocolate became an ideal gift for a woman to receive from her lover or admirer and vice versa.

A Sense Of Well-Being And Contentedness
Scientists attribute the aphrodisiac property of chocolates to two important chemicals found in it – tryptophan (a precursor of serotonin) and phenylethylamine (PEA – a stimulant related to amphetamine). Serotonin plays a role in elevating moods and its deficiency may lead to depression. Serotonin also plays a role in love, desire and lust, leading to sexual arousal. PEA Is also known as the ‘love drug’ and it raises blood pressure and blood glucose levels making one feel more alert, giving a sense of well-being and contentedness. PEA also makes the brain release beta-endorphins, which is responsible for the pleasurable effects.

Women Crave For Chocolates More
Both serotonin and PEA are mildly addictive, forcing people to crave for chocolates. This attribute gave birth to the term ‘chocoholic.’ Women are more susceptible to the effects of PEA and serotonin than men and this explains why women tend to be more chocoholics than men. Chocolate cravings are episodic and are linked to hormones, being highest just before or during menses.

Study On Sexual Desire
Many scientists do not accept the aphrodisiac potential of chocolates. According to them, the amounts of serotonin and PEA in chocolates are too small to have any substantial effect on the sexual drive or libido. In a large study conducted on more than 150 adult women, no difference in sexual drive was seen between women who consumed three or more servings of chocolates as compared to those who consumed one serving of chocolate or none.

All In The Mind?
Regardless of what scientists say, chocolates have a mild elevating effect on mood, stamina and energy levels, which are all good for sexual drive. But, the effect of chocolates on sexual drive seems to be more ‘psychological’ rather than ‘through their effect on brain chemicals’. The mere act of receiving a chocolate as a gift may stimulate the desire because of its historically reported aphrodisiac properties. After all, ‘the mind is the most potent aphrodisiac there is.’ If you feel a certain food will have an effect on sexual drive, it will have an effect!

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