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dark chocolate
high antioxidant foods
heart attack risk
good cholesterol
bad cholesterol
free radicals
stressful days
italian researchers
ldl levels
Benefits Of Dark Chocolate
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Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

I often hear that natural foods are good for us. Does that include something as delectable as chocolate?

Why Dark Chocolate is Healthy:

Chocolate has favonoids, which are polyphenol antioxidants. Free radicals cause us to age while antioxidants slow down the process of aging. Chocolate has about eight times the antioxidants as strawberries.Even better for people with high LDL (the bad cholesterol) is dark chocolate's ability to decrease LDL cholesterol. Flavonoids also decrease blood pressure. Chocolate also causes the body to create that feel good hormone, endorphin, and the depression reducing hormone serotonin- maybe that's why I really want chocolate on stressful days...

Additional benefits come from the Oleic Acid, which is the same acid found in olive oil, a healthy monounsaturated fat. Another beneficial fat is Stearic Acid, a saturated fat that doesn't increase LDL levels. Let's not forget Palmitic Acid, another saturated fat, that is something to avoid because it raises cholesterol and increases heart attack risk. Still, only 1 out of 3 fats in chocolate are bad for you.

According to a study at Scranton University, chocolate's antioxidants surpassed other high-antioxidant foods in both quantity and quality. The best form of chocolate is cocoa powder followed by dark and milk chocolates. Penn State did another study and discovered that people who consumed high amounts of cocoa powder and dark chocolate have higher HDL cholesterol (the good cholesterol). Unfortunately, only 23 people were in the study group. In August 2005, Italian researchers published an article based on their study that found lower hypertension and LDL count in people who ate chocolate regularly. This study was also too small to be conclusive as it only studied 20 people.

Sounds win-win, right? Like all food, too much of one thing isn't good. Moderation is key. No one would recommend that anyone eat a pound of chocolate per day. Just half of that bar is 200 calories. Savor the chocolate's flavor and eat it slowly. There are more than 300 chemical compounds waiting for you to enjoy. Make sure that you choose dark chocolate because it has more health benefits than white or milk chocolate. Select the chocolates with less fat and sugary fillings so that the health benefits won't be negated. That is hard to do because chocolate by itself is bitter. Sugar and fat are added to make the food more pleasurable.

Still, I won't feel guilty reaching into the freezer for some dark chocolate chips. I will continue to be happy that I changed my Chunky Monkey Brownie recipe so that there is more cocoa powder and less white flour. However, it is probably a good idea to eat Dirt Cake every once in a while because it is loaded with sugar and fat- but oh so delicious!


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