Eat Chocolate For The Good Of Your Health
The cocoa in chocolate contains iron, magnesium, manganese, zinc and phosphorous, which are all essential minerals the body needs. It also contains flavonoids, antioxidants useful in preventing free radicals which can damage cells.
Flavanols in cocoa lower blood pressure, similar to some medicines. Flavanols cause the body to produce nitrous oxide which helps open blood vessels. This can certainly help the liver where high blood pressure can cause liver damage. An improved blood flow improves the liver.
Several scientific studies show an association between quality chocolate and reduced risk from heart fluctuations, known as atrial fibrillation; this is after risk factors like alcohol, smoking, cholesterol and blood pressure with taken into account.
So chocolate will lower blood pressure, open blood vessels and reduce inflammation which all goes towards keeping the heart healthy and reducing the risk of strokes. A collection of studies of nearly 115,000 people found keen chocolate eaters had nearly a 40% lower risk of heart disease.
It’s dark chocolate we are talking about here, not sweets with lots of sugar and milk and only a small amount of chocolate. The downside comes when a lot of fat and sugar are added in some brands.
Dark chocolate contains large amounts of polyphenols, stearic acid and oleic acid, which are said to help good cholesterol (HDL).
Chocolate also makes you feel good. Justify the taste, the gluttony and self-indulgence with the science – the pleasure hormones of serotonin and endorphins are released in the brain. A large study in Norway found 70-74 year olds had improved cognitive ability in those who ate chocolate.
Do we need iron?
The body needs iron to make red blood cells and it’s their job to carry oxygen around the body. People who are deficient in iron can suffer from anaemia. A decent healthy diet will give the body enough iron and good sources of iron include liver, red meat, beans, nuts, grains such as brown rice, some dried fruits like apricots and dark green leafy vegetables.
Liver is the best source of iron, although this is not everyone’s cup of joy and should not be taken during pregnancy anyway.
Now this is the really good news.
The second best source of iron among all the foods is . . . . . . .
Yes, that’s right. You are eating that extra bar of dark chocolate purely for the good of your health; particularly women who at risk of being low on iron on a monthly basis.
Although chocolate cannot still be acclaimed as a super-food, any benefits are going to come from the best organic chocolate, which will contain 70%-80% cocoa. Milk chocolate will contain more fat and very cheap varieties will contain fatty oil and masses of sugar.
I have three bars of chocolate in front of me right now.
With the cooking chocolate, the largest ingredient is sugar. No percentage is stated but it’s the first on the list so will be the largest quantity.
Then comes vegetable palm oil.
Then 16% cocoa powder.
Finally some emulsifier and preservative.
A bar of milk chocolate contains 55% sugar
20% cocoa solids
20% milk solids and some palm oil.
The organic dark chocolate contains 75% organic cocoa mass from Ecuador
18% organic sugar
7% organic cocoa butter
Even the very best chocolate will contain sugar – cocoa completely without it would be hard to take. Obviously the organic dark is going to give most health benefits, which of course is the only reason we actually eat chocolate. (smiley face)
Mass-produced chocolate cake will use a very basic ‘industrial’ chocolate and will certainly not contain the benefits of the specialist dark chocolates. That cooking chocolate above looks like a death wish.
Some cafés have a chocolate fountain where they add liquid chocolate on to cakes or waffles. They might be promoted as “Belgian chocolate” but a great deal of fat has to be added otherwise it will simply clog the fountain. When hot it can taste all right; when cold it can taste like nasty industrial chocolate. Best avoided.
So there we are, that chocolate habit is purely medicinal.