It is safe to say that chocolate is a food beloved by many people. In fact, some people love it a little too much, which ends up affecting their waistlines. However, chocolate lovers around the world can rejoice because chocolate offers great health benefits. The cacao bean used to make chocolate has been benefitting folks for over three millennia.
Dark chocolate can positively affect the circulatory system. According to research, a small daily amount of dark chocolate can reduce blood pressure. In limited amounts, research shows that it may help prevent heart disease through the inhibited oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol. LDL is a major factor in promoting this disease by sticking to the artery walls when it oxidizes
Other chocolate health benefits come from flavonoids, which serve as antioxidants. Dark chocolate has almost eight times the amount of antioxidants found in strawberries. These antioxidants protect the body from free radicals, which cause aging and damage. They also produce nitric oxide, which is what leads to the beneficial effects on blood pressure. Chocolate is also a stimulant and it contains serotonin, which serves as an anti-depressant.
Research is currently being conducted regarding the brain stimulation, cough prevention, anticancer, and antidiarrhoeal properties of chocolate. Some people claim the substance is an aphrodisiac, but this has been unproven. A BBC study reported that the act of melting chocolate in the mouth produced an increase in heart rate and brain activity more intense and longer lasting than passionate kissing.
Though chocolate offers great health benefits, some people worry about the fat contents. The good news is, some of this fat does not have an impact on cholesterol. Oleic acid is considered a healthy monounsaturated fat, while both stearic and palmitic acids are saturated fats. Stearic acid has a neutral effect on cholesterol. Consuming about one-quarter bar of dark chocolate per day can actually be beneficial to the body.