Dark Chocolate: Probiotic, Heart Benefits, Antioxidants, Good Fat = Love

The first time I ate dark chocolate I spat it out and said, “THIS STUFF ISN’T REAL!”

My mom smacked me in the mouth a few times and said, “boy, if you do that again, I’ma whip you.”

I’ve always been a kit-kat, twix, and butterfingers kind of guy.  Milk chocolate, however, is not as good as a dark chocolate.  Actually, milk chocolate has nowhere near the unbelievable amount of benefits dark chocolate has (and I’m not talking about the processed junk that most American factories saturate stores with). I’m talking about the dark chocolate from Belgium and Switzerland.

Without further ado, let’s go over some of the unbelievable benefits it has.

Where Does Dark Chocolate Come From?

Cacao trees.  This tree produces a fruit about the size of a coconut and inside this fruit is the tree’s seed – the cacao bean. Once gathered, cacao beans are typically fermented for up to a week then thoroughly dried in the sun.

Packed With Antioxidants

Dark chocolate contains numerous natural antioxidants. Raw, dark chocolate not only tastes rich, it is rich in cell-protecting antioxidants containing eight times the number of antioxidants found in strawberries. Some people would claim that a diet with a lot of antioxidants can actually hurt you, which can possibly be true, but antioxidants inhibit oxidation and delay different types of cell damage.

Polyphenols are a particular type of antioxidant found in dark chocolate, [1]and are also abundant in berries and oranges.

Raw Organic Cacao and dark chocolate rank high in goodness because the antioxidants are incredibly concentrated.

Great Fat!

Oleic acid is a healthy monounsaturated fat that is also found in olive oil and coconut oil. Stearic acid is a saturated fat that has a neutral effect on cholesterol. I talked about good fats in my last couple of blogs, so be sure to check those out, too.

No matter which way you choose to look at it, chocolate is a high calorie food that contains a small amount of “bad” fat. Many studies state that no more than 100 grams of chocolate a day should be consumed and you’ll still get all the health benefits. Don’t get too carried away though because 100 grams of delicious dark chocolate contains about 400 calories. Yeah, that’s a heck of a lot of calories for those who are counting, but it all depends how many calories go in compared to going out.  If you’re in a mass surplus, that’s how you gain weight.  If you’re burning as much as you’re eating, you’re perfectly fine.

If you want the full health benefits of chocolate, I recommend eating only organic raw cacao dark chocolate. As delicious as they may be, milk or white chocolate cannot make the health claims that dark chocolate can because anything added into that chocolate is fat, sugar and additional calories.  So, the twix, butterfingers and other delicious bars of chocolate will have to be weeded out.

Heart Health

According to a study published on Science Daily, eating 6.7 grams of chocolate per day represents the protective effect for cardiovascular health. Flavonoids contained in dark chocolate help to promote normal blood pressure. What a surprise!

Depression

It’s unbelievable to know how something as pure as the cacao bean acts as an anti-depressant.  How is that?! The world of medicine puts people on anti-depressants when they can very well just point them in the direction of dark chocolate?  Cacao beans also contain the amino acid tryptophan and monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors. MAO inhibitors allow the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine to circulate in the bloodstream longer and it is this effect that may help alleviate depression and promote feelings of wellbeing.

One of my students recently had a lack of serotonin for whatever reason (as the doctor said) so she was given pills to help elevate the levels.  Hmmm….the world of medicine, ey? It’s astonishing how the most natural foods, fruits and vegetables that have been on this planet for hundreds of years can help us.

 

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