The Health Benefits of Eating Chocolate
For centuries, chocolate has been one of the favorite sweet-tasting treat in the world and until not too long ago, also considered unhealthy. Recent studies show that cacao, which chocolate is made, contains potent antioxidants that can actually be beneficial to our health. Cacao is derived from the beans of Theobroma cacao, a tree native to South America (1). Historically cacao was being used by ancient people with various medicinal purposes such as treatment of inflammations, heart palpitation, and prevention of infections. Cacao is an abundant source of flavonoids, a potential antioxidant, which can be beneficial to one’s health. The benefits greatly depend on the type of chocolate that is consumed and the percentage of cacao bean it has. The higher percentage of cacao, more health is the chocolate. The best chocolate is the darkest, which contains 60 to 70 percentage of cacao and small amount of sugar. Dark chocolate is proven to be good for the heart. A small bar of it every day helps the cardiovascular system run well. In recent study, it has been demonstrated that the flavonoids present in cacao stimulate the production of nitric oxid (NO) which helps the dilatation of the blood vessels allowing the easy blood flow to the heart and brain reducing the blood pressure(2). When blood pressure is lowered, there is a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. Additionally, the flavanoids affect the cholesterol decreasing the bad cholesterol (LDL) in your blood and increasing significantly the good cholesterol (HDL), which cleans and mops up the blood vessels from the harmful fats. Also, dark chocolate improves the body’s ability to use insulin which helps to prevent Type-II diabetes, the type that is caused by the body’s inability to deal with sugar. Cocoa can increase nitric oxide levels to help with insulin-stimulated uptake of blood sugars. The increase in nitric oxide also improves the health of the blood vessels,...
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