While we probably don't need a "good reason" to indulge on decadent dark chocolate, research shows that people eating cocoa-rich foods daily can receive an array of tangible (real) health benefits, starting with:
Health Benefit of Chocolate #1: A Healthier Heart
Thanks to reducing inflammation, and relaxing your arteries, cocoa's anti-oxidant properties also lower your liver's output of cholesterol. Studies indicate a daily dose of cocoa can reduce your blood pressure by as much as 3 pints and increase blood flow to your heat by 48%.
Health Benefit of Chocolate #2. Memory and Energy Boost
A British study reports a dose of cocoa can increase your memory, concentration and energy for up tp 2 1/2 hours after eating it.
Health Benefit of Chocolate #3: A Longer Life
Harvard University research shows consuming cocoa everyday will actually slow the aging process by cutting your risk of chronic illnesses by 36% - which actually translates into the addition of a few years to your life.
Dark chocolate is a bonus power food on CALIFORNIA LIVING™ Top 10 Foods Proven to Enhance Health & Longevity food list on Examiner.com.
Want to know everything there is to know about chocolate? Here's a tasty and fun idea for San Francisco Bay Area locals, chocolate lovers and nutrition buffs: Attend a Free TCHO Chocolate Factory Tour & Tasting at Pier 17, Green Street in San Francisco, CA. Learn about the fascinating history of chocolate from "the most knowledgeable and entertaining chocolate experts in town," and learn "what it takes to make chocolate from bean to bar." Please note that the TCHO tours and tastings are free yet reservations are required.
Now as far as dark chocolate's reputation for enhancing one's libido (sex drive), research shows that when consumed, dark chocolate makes our brain secrete "feel good" endorphins, which create the same brain chemistry we experience when we fall in love. Try experimenting with different brands and flavors of chocolate, and do make sure you are consciously "present" when eating chocolate, in order to savor and appreciate the moment.
Keep in mind, when it comes to consuming dark chocolate as part of a healthy diet and weight loss plan, moderation is key, as this is one scenario where having "too much of a good thing" is not a good thing.
The following excerpts from The Party Girl Diet™ book reviews the diet and health benefits of one of life's sweetest pleasures...chocolate:
According to documented research, chocolate, and its main ingredient cocoa appear to reduce risk factors for heart disease. In addition, the flavanols in cocoa beans may have anti-oxicant effects that reduce cell damage implicated in heart disease. Research also shows flavanols also help lower blood preassure and improve vascular function.
Dark chocolate contains more flavonols than does milk chocolate, and the evidence for the healthy benefits of flavanol-rich chocolate comes mostly from short-term and uncontrolled studies. More research will be needed to confirm chocolate's ultimate role in heart health.
If you want to add chocolate to your diet, do so in moderation because most commercial chocolate has ingredients that add fat, sugar and calories, and too much can contribute to unwanted weight gain, a risk factor for high blood preassure, heart disease and diabetes.
Choose dark chocolate with cocoa content of 65 percent or higher. Limit yourself to no more than 3 ounces (85 grams) a day, which is the amount shown in studies to be helpful. Because this amount may provide up to 450 calories, you may want to cut calories in other areas and/or step up the exercise to increase the amount of calories you can eat daily without gaining weight., or when weight loss is your goal.
In addition, in the video on this page, fellow nutrition expert Joy Bauer confirms the reported health benefits of dark chocolate, and counsels that dark chocolate can even be consumed by diabetics watching their sugar intake.
The moral of the story? A modest body of research does support the claims that eating dark chocolate in moderation can be a healthy daily treat, and may just be one of those guilty pleasures in life ~ with benefits.
Click here for The Party Girl Diet's healthy Skinny Fudge™ Recipe to keep the party going with a lower fat treat when your craving something sweet to eat. Enjoy, Aprilanne