Chocolates, rich in antioxidants like flavonoids in red wine, vitamins E and B, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus, fights heart diseases and lead to heart health, diabetes as chromium assists insulin function, a source of energy for exercise, its caffeine stimulates brain function, and chocolate fights cancer, depression.
Chocolates, especially the dark variety, are rich in flavonoids, which are antioxidants that help fight heart diseases, leading to heart health. Flavonoids also fight certain forms of cancer. Chocolates are good sources of chromium, which is good for diabetes. Aside from its antioxidant activities, chocolates help elevate mood, fighting depression. Caffeine in chocolate helps stimulate the brain and the nervous system. Chocolate has been touted as an aphrodisiac. A good source of energy, chocolates are ideal for those who exercise regularly. Chocolates are also good sources of vitamins E and B, magnesium, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
Chocolate’s Health Benefits
Recent studies have shed light on the possible health benefits of chocolate. Of particular interest is the dark variety, and also the beverage cocoa. Researchers have discovered that dark chocolate is very rich in flavonoids—similar to those found in red wine, some fruits and vegetables—which have numerous antioxidant properties. Flavonoids help in fighting certain forms of cancer and reducing the risk of heart disease. Dark chocolate is indeed food for the heart.
Feeling Good from Chocolate
Chocolate seems to have mood-elevating capabilities. Depressed women, for instance, tend to binge on chocolate. Although no known scientific basis has been established for this behavior, psychiatrists have attributed chocolate cravings to hormonal changes, such as those during puberty or in a woman’s premenstrual phase.
Chocolate contains caffeine, which stimulates the brain. Chocolate seems to enhance mental concentration, leading to peak performance in any task, because it is also rich in phenylethylamine (PEA), a naturally occurring compound that has effects similar to amphetamine. But PEA can trigger migraine headaches, so go slow on consumption, as moderation is always important.
Chocolate also contains theobromine, which stimulates the nervous system. Chocolate has also been touted as an aphrodisiac.
Vitamins and Minerals from Chocolate
An ounce (30g) of chocolate contains about 150 calories and 3 g of protein. It also retains some of the vitamin E and B from the original bean (before processing). Sweet chocolate contains between 40 and 53 percent of fat from cocoa butter. Chocolate and cocoa powder are rich in chromium, the trace mineral that assists insulin in performing its job, which might be beneficial to diabetics, who are advised to opt for the sugar-free variety.
Chocolate is also rich in iron, magnesium, phosphorous, calcium and potassium. But the calories and fat make chocolate an inappropriate source of these vitamins and minerals except when used therapeutically under a nutritionist’s supervision.
Chocolate is a very rich source of energy needed during exercise or other physical activities. One hundred grams of chocolate contain about 2205 kilojoules of energy. That is why many athletes drink hot chocolate before workouts.
Like any other food, chocolates can be a good source of brain- and muscle- enhancing properties. Not only does it provide unequaled gustatory pleasures, it also benefits our health in many ways. They key is always moderation. Read more about Chocolate History and How to Make and Eat Chocolates.
“Why is Chocolate Popular?” Why in the Word? Reader’s Digest. (Australia) 1994. 352 pages. Hardbound.
“Chocolate” Foods that Harm, Foods that Heal: An A to Z Guide to Safe and Healthy Eating. The Reader’s Digest. 2004, Montreal, Canada. 416 pages. Hardbound.
Chocolate Photo by FotoosVanRobin at Flickr.com
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used for diagnosis or to guide treatment without the opinion of a health professional. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a doctor for advice.