Good News for Chocolate Lovers

pressure or heart disease?  Surprisingly, studies show a bon-bon can help with these ailments too.  A dark piece of chocolate  —but not a Twix bar Reeses cup.  But this no license to go on a chocolate binge. Eating more dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure according to researchers.  Read on to learn more about the health benefits of eating dark chocolate:

For many people, chocolate has been an ageless cure all for depression, anxiety, stress or other emotional troubles. But what about valid physical health problems like high blood
1. Dark chocolate (not milk chocolate or white chocolate) is a potent antioxidant.  Antioxidants control the amount free radicals in the blood.  Generally, free radicals attack the nearest stable molecule of a cell, taking its electron. When the attacked molecule loses its electron, it becomes a free radical itself, beginning a chain reaction. Once the process is started, it can cascade, which can result in the disruption of a living cell.  Environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke and herbicides can also spawn free radicals.Unfortunately free radical damage accumulates as you get older.  Of course fruits and vegetables contain many antioxidants but it is now known that dark chocolate is also a powerful antioxidant. Normally, the body can handle free radicals, but if antioxidants are unavailable, or if the free-radical production becomes excessive, damage can occur.
2.    Skip the milk! Studies show that drinking milk reduces the potency of antioxidants in antioxidant rich foods like fruits, green tea and dark chocolate. Experts believe that milk proteins interact with the antioxidant phenols found in dark chocolate and other antioxidant rich foods, making them harder for your body to absorb.
3. Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure. There was a recent study of six men and seven women aged 55-64 with mild high blood pressure (average 153/84) where half the patients got dark chocolate (group 1) and the other half white chocolate (group 2) both eating a 100-gram candy bar for two weeks.  Those who ate the dark chocolate had a significant drop in blood pressure while those who ate white chocolate did not.  On a separate study with healthy men and women in which only antioxidant levels were measured, those who ate only dark chocolate (no milk or milk chocolate) had higher levels of epicatechin, a particularly healthy compound found in chocolate and they had the most total antioxidants of the 2 groups.  The milk chocolate eaters had the lowest epicatechin levels of all.  Dark chocolate also contains cocoa phenols which is another healthy compound found to lower blood pressure.
4.     Remember to watch your calories! A 100-gram serving of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Bar has 531 calories.  The same amount of an apple contains only 52 calories.  But of course the chocolate takes care of your sweet tooth better than an apple and you gain blood pressure benefits with the chocolate.  However 531 calories is a lot of calories for a snack, so watch your food intake throughout the day so you don’t counteract the effects of the dark chocolate by gaining unwanted weight.
Dark chocolate is rich in powerful antioxidants, so adding a small amount to your diet can offer immense benefits. Remember that milk chocolate, white chocolate and even dark chocolate eaten with milk offer few antioxidant benefits so leave the milk in the fridge.   You should consider replacing the sweets in your diet with small portions of dark chocolate but continue to watch your calories whether you decide to add dark chocolate to your diet or not.  Add dark chocolate to your diet to control high blood pressure, keep exercising regularly and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables to manage any free radical damage to your cells and ultimately your health.
Thanks for reading! Have a healthy week!

 

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