Healthy chocolate sounds like an oxymoron to some, but this sweet treat really does have health and nutritional benefits. Ignoring for just a moment, the calories that are normally associated with chocolate, health benefits offered by this rich indulgence are a great excuse to occasionally add it to one’s diet.
Healthy chocolate really does exist, as it is naturally high in:
- Flavonoids (decreasing the risk of platelets becoming sticky and leading to complications)
- Polyphenols (which add antioxidant activity)
- Stearic acid (a fat that does not contribute to high cholesterol)
Because it is so delicious, it is easy to forget that chocolate is actually a plant-based food. As such, it contains many of the same health benefits as other plants, herbs and vegetables. For its antioxidant properties, alone, chocolate has eight times the antioxidant strength as strawberries, which are also celebrated as a food that is super rich in antioxidants.
Considered to be heart healthy, chocolate is very effective in lowering blood pressure, keeping blood flowing and supporting a strong heart. Because it is naturally high in flavonoids, it helps in preventing fatty substances in the bloodstream from becoming oxidized and inhibiting crucial blood flow through the arteries. Recent studies also suggest that healthy chocolate consumption can cause the blood vessels to become more flexible.
Healthy chocolate discoveries also show that it supports the following functions:
- Circulatory system
- Digestive system
- Nervous system
- Cardiovascular system
In natural cures and home remedies that use chocolate, health conditions such as the following may be helped:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular disease
- Blood clots
In general, chocolate health studies seem to agree that it also:
- Increases energy
- Reduces anxiety
- Relieves stress and depression
- Helps slow the effects of aging
- May help in pain reduction
Symptoms of Deficiency
There is no such thing as a chocolate deficiency. However, without healthy chocolate benefits, such as antioxidant protection and circulatory protection, serious health conditions described above may develop. While chocolate, alone, cannot cure cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol or any related conditions, it can be used to help avoid these health problems when used in moderation.
The best healthy chocolate recipes are those that are home made or made with good health in mind. While there may be a very slight chocolate health benefit to chocolate bars and desserts commonly sold in stores, there is also a tremendous health risk involved with their consumption due to the other unhealthy ingredients used to prepare them.
Also, research has determined that milk chocolate is not as high in flavonoids as dark chocolate is. Due to processing, chocolate syrups and cocoa powders are also nearly entirely depleted of flavonoids and, thus, not considered to have the chocolate health benefits some may expect.
While chocolate health studies show that there is some benefit to moderate chocolate consumption, it is still a very calorie rich food and it can lead to unhealthy weight gain, which can actually have an adverse effect on the heart and arteries.
Also, while a lot of people enjoy drinking milk while eating chocolate, some studies have discovered that milk can actually inhibit the absorption of the antioxidants healthy chocolate contains.
Healthy chocolate consumption is possible. In fact, it is actually recommended in small to moderate doses. Not only does it taste good, but chocolate can actually be good for you. With a focus on a healthy diet, exercise, adequate amounts of rest and healthy living, in general, a little chocolate every once in a while can actually be good for you.