More Outrageous Health Benefits of Chocolate
Being happy, vibrantly healthy and full of vitality – this is the secret to a good life.
Thomas Jefferson once wrote “without health, no pleasure can be tasted by man”
Feeling alive and full of energy and experiencing the fullness that life has to offer – this is the answer to loving life, loving yourself, and loving others. I ask you today – to think about what love means to you in your life.
Think about someone or something that you love. It can be a friend or family member, your pet, your home or your car, the beautiful trees and white glistening snow, or your favorite comfy chair and your favorite cup of tea. Whatever brings you joy, you will find it is a source of love and therefore a source of good health. The love you feel in your heart brings happiness to your mind and health to your body. Try to focus on something you love and have gratitude for it. This will raise your vibration and heal your mind and body. If you don’t think you have enough love in your life, then focus on and have gratitude for what IS good in your life and more good things and more love will come your way.
This is a focus for February – the month of love. And, there is no better way to experience the feelings of love and joy than with chocolate. What is truly amazing is that chocolate can be consumed in a very healthful way and one that will not cause weight gain and may even help you to lose a few pounds!!!! Teaching others how to have great delicious foods that happen to be extremely healthful, is the secret to my successful practice. Learn how to indulge in good health and life becomes better in every way.
It might not be much of a surprise when we read about how eating broccoli can lower the risk of certain cancers, or how fruits and vegetables are loaded with antioxidants that support the immune system to fight illness. It seems that virtually every day we see a report of a newly discovered health benefit of a fruit or vegetable. We can almost expect foods we know we “should be eating” to eventually produce some research that will show remarkable properties. What a pleasant surprise that we can add the often-forbidden-yet-highly-desired chocolate to that list of healthy plant-based foods. Now there is a way to enjoy chocolate without guilt–and know that it can have a favorable effect on your health!
I’ve long enjoyed dark chocolate as a treat; now it’s an extra bonus to include some in my diet and know of its fascinating health-promoting properties. I especially enjoy helping to reduce the guilt-ridden looks on my clients’ faces when they confess giving into their chocolate cravings. I try to absolve them of their guilt by citing the latest research and sharing with them how chocolate can be part of a healthy eating plan.
Most of you probably don’t need an excuse to enjoy fine chocolate, but just in case you do, here are some healthy reasons to indulge yourself a little:
We have all heard in the media that dark chocolate has health benefits and is actually good for you. Yes, this is true! But it must be DARK chocolate, not milk chocolate, to have health benefits. As soon as dairy is added to the cocoa, it negates the benefits of this amazingly delicious ingredient.
So, what are some of the health benefits of chocolate?
Chocolate is rich with antioxidants, such as phenols and flavonoids, that may assist with preventing many serious health challenges and reduce signs and issues with ageing. Some claim that there is over 25000 antioxidants in one spoonful or that chocolate is 955 on the ORAC scale(Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity). Antioxidants can help to prevent cell damage and have been linked to prevention of cancer and other degenerative diseases.
Interesting too is that dark chocolate finds itself on the list of foods that starve cancer, or promote anti angiogenesis, which means it prevents the growth of new blood vessels into a solid tumor, according to Dr. William Li . Some of the other anti-angiogenesis foods include: Green tea, Strawberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Blueberries, Oranges, Grapefruit, Lemons, Apples, Pineapple, Cherries, Red grapes, Bok choy, Kale, Soy beans, Ginseng, Maitake Mushroom, Licorice, Turmeric, Nutmeg, Artichokes, Lavender, Pumpkin Seeds, Cucumber, Parsley, Garlic, Tomato, Olive Oil, Grape Seed Oil, along with Dark Chocolate.
Chocolate Improves Heart Health: By now we’ve all heard the good news about dark chocolate: the antioxidants – phenols and flavonoids –well, according to Dr. Weil and others, researchers found that these nutrients that are in in dark chocolate may offer protection against cardiovascular (heart) disease.
Helps with cholesterol: Cocoa butter, which is a saturated fat, may have a beneficial effect on cholesterol levels. Scientists at Penn State found that dark chocolate and flavonoid-rich cocoa powder reduced LDL (“bad” cholesterol) oxidation.
Lowers blood pressure: A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that dark chocolate had an effect on lowering blood pressure. Again it’s the flavonoids which are natural antioxidants found in many foods from plants.
“This study is not about eating more chocolate,” Blumberg cautioned. “It suggests that cocoa flavonoids appear to have benefits on vascular function…”
Blumberg and colleagues at the University of L’Aquila in Italy, including senior author Dr. Claudio Ferri, studied 10 men and 10 women. They all had hypertension and a systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading) between 140 and 159 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) and a diastolic blood pressure (bottom number) between 90 and 99. None of the participants were taking antihypertensive medicines, and none had diabetes or other disease, nor did they smoke.
For one week before starting the study, participants avoided all chocolate and other flavonoid-rich foods. During the next 15 days, half ate a daily 3.5-ounce bar of flavonoid-rich dark chocolate, while the other half ate the same amount of white chocolate. After another week of avoiding flavonoid-rich foods, each subject “crossed over” and ate the other chocolate.
“White chocolate, which has no flavonoids, was the perfect control food because it contains all the other ingredients and calories found in dark chocolate,” Blumberg said. “It’s important to note that the dark chocolate we used had a high level of flavonoids, giving it a slightly bittersweet taste. Most Americans eat milk chocolate, which has a low amount of these compounds.”
The researchers found a 12 mm Hg decrease in systolic blood pressure and a 9 mm Hg decrease in diastolic blood pressure in the dark chocolate group after 15 days. Blood pressure did not decrease in the white chocolate group.
“This is not only a statistically significant effect, but it’s also a clinically meaningful decline,” Blumberg said. “This is the kind of reduction in blood pressure often found with other healthful dietary interventions.”
Levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol dropped by about 10 percent in the dark chocolate group.
Improves blood flow: Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has shown that cocoa has anti-clotting, blood-thinning properties that work in a similar way as aspirin. Nobody is suggesting replacing your aspirin with chocolate, but the research is compelling.
Chocolate weakens heart attacks. Although more research is needed to confirm this one, a new study showed that regular chocolate eaters who had heart disease were less likely to die following a heart attack compared with the people who didn’t treat themselves to the dark and dreamy stuff.
Dark Chocolate May Lighten the Load on Arteries Flavonoids in the sweet treat can make vessels more flexible. (HealthDay News) — Delicious nibbles of dark chocolate may boost the function of vital endothelial cells that line the inside of blood vessels, a new U.S. study suggests. The study, conducted by researchers at the Yale Prevention Research Center in Connecticut, included 45 healthy people with a body mass index (BMI) between 25 and 35 kg/m2. The participants were divided into three groups that ate either eight ounces of cocoa without sugar; cocoa with sugar; or a placebo. BMI is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. A BMI reading of 25-29.9 is an indicator of overweight, while a reading of 30 or more indicates obesity. For six weeks, the participants underwent endothelial function testing. This testing was done by using high frequency ultrasound to measure the ability of the brachial artery (which runs from the shoulder to the elbow) to relax and expand in order to accommodate increased blood flow — a test called flow mediated dilation (FMD). “In this group of healthy adults with BMI between 25 and 35 kg/m2, dark chocolate ingestion over a short period of time was shown to significantly improve endothelial function, leading our team to believe that greater benefit may be seen through a long-term, randomized clinical trial,” co-investigator Dr. Valentine Yanchou Njike (what a coincidence on the name) said in a prepared statement.
“While the findings from this study do not suggest that people should start eating more chocolate as part of their daily routine, it does suggest that we pay more attention to how dark chocolate and other flavonoid-rich foods might offer cardiovascular benefits,” Njike said.
The study was expected to be presented March 27 2012 at the American College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session in New Orleans.
The study found that FMD improved significantly (2.4 percent) in the group that consumed cocoa with no sugar, compared with 1.5 percent in the group that ate cocoa with sugar. There was a 0.8 percent decrease in FMD in the group that ate the placebo.
In the most recent study, researchers at Athens Medical School in Greece recruited 17 healthy young volunteers who agreed to eat a 3.5-ounce bar of dark chocolate and then undergo ultrasound tests to see how the chocolate affected the functioning of endothelial cells in blood-vessel walls. Normally, these cells control the stiffness of blood vessels by secreting substances that regulate flexibility.
The researchers found that on the days the volunteers ate dark chocolate (as opposed to those who ate fake chocolate), endothelial function was improved for about three hours. These are interesting findings, but we don’t yet know what they mean in terms of preventing cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, or deaths. This study doesn’t tell us whether eating dark chocolate on a regular basis would reduce the risk of heart disease.
The latest news about chocolate – that it makes blood vessels more flexible – adds to accumulating evidence that chocolate offers a number of health benefits and may be good for the heart. Earlier findings had shown that chocolate contains polyphenols, the same kinds of antioxidants found in red wine and green tea; stearic acid, a type of fat that doesn’t raise cholesterol levels; and flavonoids, which reduce the stickiness of platelets, inhibiting blood clotting and reducing the danger of coronary artery blockages.
Improves Insulin Sensitivity: Back to the Italian Study: The researchers report that the dark chocolate group also experienced a significant reduction in several measures of insulin resistance compared to the white chocolate group. “This study is not about eating more chocolate,” Blumberg cautioned. “It suggests that cocoa flavonoids appear to have benefits on vascular function and glucose sensitivity.
Reduces inflammation: Chocolate has been found to reduce inflammation: Another Italian study showed that when volunteers ingested small amounts of dark chocolate, their levels of C-reactive protein (an inflammatory marker) decreased.
Helps with mood and intimacy:
Chocolate contains PEA or phenylethylamine, which is a mood and pleasure-boosting nutrient that promotes the feeling of love. So, it sounds like chocolate heals the heart in more ways than one. No wonder we often give and receive chocolates on Valentine’s day! Clearly we should not wait for an annual holiday to promote feelings of love.
Not only does chocolate promote feelings of love, it has been found to contain tryptophan, which promotes relaxation and sleep and may help reduce feelings of depression. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, which means it cannot be synthesized by the organism and therefore, must be part of the diet. Tryptophan is a constituent of most protein-based foods or dietary proteins. It is particularly plentiful in chocolate, and other healthy foods such as oats, bananas, durians, mangoes, dried dates, sesame seeds, chickpeas, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, spirulina, and peanuts. It is also found in milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, red meat, eggs, fish, poultry, and especially turkey, but these latter foods contain cholesterol and saturated fats and contribute to higher rates of health challenges.
Chocolate is not the only food to resolve depression. In an interview that Janet McKee did with Dr. Gabrielle Cousens for the documentary, “Bethany’s Story”, he stated that by eating a health plant-based diet, 90% of his patients have been able to get off of their depression medications.
According to Dr. Weil : A number of chemically active compounds in dark chocolate can improve mood and pleasure as well, by boosting serotonin and endorphin levels in the brain. We already heard that chocolate contains tryptophan, which is a precursor of serotonin, which can help with depression.
Research also shows chocolate can increase dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure.
And according to Dr. Oz, chocolate is an aphrodisiac too!! And, if you you’re your chocolate with bananas, bananas are rich in bromelain, which is an enzyme that may boost male libido. . Raw Cacao Powder also has Arginine, the aphrodisiac-like amino acid believed by body builders to build muscle and aid in recovery.
Chocolate is a Brain Food:
Even if chocolate is not your passion, here’s another reason to consider it a health food: according to Dr. Andrew Weil and others, the flavanols in cocoa appear to be good for your brain. . New studies suggest that these compounds increase blood flow to the brain and may enhance cognitive function during challenging mental exercise.
According to an article from Real Age, consuming chocolate improves cognitive performance. “Ample research suggests that the flavanols in dark chocolate increase cerebral blood flow, which in turn may trigger the creation of new blood vessels and brain cells.
The effects of cocoa may slow age-related decline and, possibly, help seniors who have had mini-strokes. And a new study showed that older adults performed better on cognitive tests after eating small portions of the sweet stuff.” The problem with most chocolate treats is that they contain sugar, which is not the best for our health or our brain. Learn my secrets on how to make chocolate treats without added sugar by visiting www.sanaview.com for articles, videos and recipes from my book, “Fabulous Recipes for Vibrant Health.”
One study, conducted by a British researcher, used imaging to observe that the cocoa increased blood flow to the brains of healthy young women for two or three hours. And, a U.S. study conducted by a Harvard researcher also showed an increase in blood flow to the brains of the 34 adult subjects in his study, who consumed a liquid cocoa.
Chocolate can help trim your waistline! It’s true. Flavonoids — those antioxidant-like compounds found in fruits, veggies, chocolate, tea, and wine — seemed to help ward off belly fat in a 14-year study. Specifically, catechins, flavanols, and flavones (which are types of flavonoids) may help to curb belly bulge by improving the body’s metabolic profile (ie., your metabolism). Be sure to enjoy a wide variety of colorful fruits and vegetables as they contain these flavonoids.
Chocolate helps to make you look buff! From nutrition data.com, chocolate helps you burn fat and build muscle!!!
Chromium is a micromineral, meaning that we need only very small amounts (25 to 30 micrograms a day) of this nutrient in order to be healthy. Nonetheless, it is essential to human health. Chromium helps your body process sugar (glucose) correctly and chromium deficiency can cause problems with blood sugar regulation. Just thought I would add that a great and tasty source of chromium is dark chocolate!
Makes you younger! According to Real Age, because cocoa increases dopamine production and provides flavonoids which keep your arteries young and flexible, eating 1oz per day of at least 70% cocoa will make you 1.2 years younger than your chronological age.
Some great news for all of you chocolate lovers; chocolate may actually help to improve your skin! A German study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that women who drank hot cocoa had softer and smoother skin. Cocoa is high in flavonoids which is the nutrient believed to provide these amazing benefits.
This DOES NOT mean you should run out and start eating Snicker’s bars to your heart’s content. The problem with most chocolate treats, they are filled with sugar and dairy, both of which will wreak havoc to your skin and your weight and all aspects of inner and outer beauty.
No need to worry, I have great solutions to truly healthy chocolate desserts that avoid all added sugar and fat and dairy. Please see my past articles on the health benefits of chocolate and some of the desserts I demonstrated on my YouTube channel. If that is not enough to give you great ideas, be sure to get my recipe collection book, “Fabulous Recipes for Vibrant Health” by visiting my site at www.sanaview.com.
Chocolate has a cavity-fighting compound. Okay, so you don’t necessarily want to trade in your toothbrush for a chocolate bar. But some interesting research at Tulane University, May 2007,shows a compound in chocolate — theobromine — may be just as good as fluoride at hardening tooth enamel. So the compound could find its way into toothpastes and mouthwashes one day. Until then, keep in mind that most commercially prepared chocolate has lots of sugar, which is terrible for your teeth. Again, learn my secrets to making decadent chocolate treats without the sugar.
According to Dr. Policano, antioxidants help to reduce oxidative stress, which may be a key contributor to thyroid problems, including low thyroid function. The main players include high ORAC capacity foods such as raw chocolate.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT BENEFIT OF ALL????!!!!
It’s delicious! Research shows that enjoying food and life is beneficial for your health. My favorite reason for eating dark chocolate, is that it’s delicious! Enjoying food is part of living a happy and healthy life. Try one of my chocolate dessert ideas in my book “Fabulous Recipes for Vibrant Health” to learn how to include chocolate treats in your diet that are healthy for you too.
Chocolate treats, all in my recipe book Fabulous Recipes for Vibrant Health:
- Watermelon cacao summer drink!!!!
- Chocolate non-dairy milk shakes
- Avocado chocolate mousse
- Chocolate Nut milk balls
- Chocolate banana frozen dessert
- Raw Chocolate pie
- Raw (dehydrated) Chocolate macaroons
- Cherry Chocolate Milk
- Young coconut chocolate pudding
- Mayan Hot Chocolate
Dr. William Li, the Angiogensis Foundation, www.angio.org.
Penn State University Study, January 2002, “Evidence that the Antioxidant Flavonoids in Tea and Cocoa are Beneficial for Cardiovascular Health”, January 2002 Lipidology
Research Letters | March 26, 2012
Association Between More Frequent Chocolate Consumption and Lower Body Mass Index
Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, Sabrina Koperski, BS, Halbert L. White, PhD
Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(6):519-521.
Research Letters | November 8, 2011
Habitual Chocolate Intake and Vascular Disease: A Prospective Study of Clinical Outcomes in Older Women
Joshua R. Lewis, BSc, PhD, Richard L. Prince, MD, Kun Zhu, PhD, Amanda Devine, PhD, Peter L. Thompson, MD, MB, MBA, Jonathan M. Hodgson, PhD
Arch Intern Med. 2011;170(20):1857-1858.
Editor’s Correspondence | September 27, 2010
Chocolate Intake, Depression, and Clinical Progression in HIV-HCV Coinfected Patients: Still More Questions Than Answers
M. Patrizia Carrieri, PhD, Julien Cohen, MS, Maria Winnock, PhD, Dominique Salmon, MD
Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(17):1607-1607. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2010.330
Editor’s Correspondence | September 27, 2010
Chocolate Consumption and Effects on Serotonin Synthesis—Reply
Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD, Sabrina Koperski, BS, Natalie Rose, MD
Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(17):1608-1609.
Editor’s Correspondence | September 27, 2010
Chocolate Consumption and Effects on Serotonin Synthesis
Nuno Rodrigues Silva, MMed
Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(17):1608-1609.
Original Investigation | April 26, 2010
Mood Food: Chocolate and Depressive Symptoms in a Cross-sectional Analysis
Natalie Rose, MD, Sabrina Koperski, BS, Beatrice A. Golomb, MD, PhD
Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(8):699-703.
Review Article | April 9, 2007
Effect of Cocoa and Tea Intake on Blood Pressure: A Meta-analysis
Dirk Taubert, MD, PhD, Renate Roesen, PhD, Edgar Schömig, MD