The Chocoholics Guide To Good Health

The Chocoholics Guide to Good Health

By Dr. Peter Abaci

Are you looking for a really great anti-inflammatory remedy to counter-act those winter season pain flare-ups? What if I told you that I could recommend something that was not only fifty times more powerful than green tea and ten times more powerful than blueberries, but that it could also help lower blood pressure, reduce the risks of heart disease and diabetes, and possibly even make you smarter? Well, you won’t need a doctor’s prescription to find this special elixir, but rather look no further than the dark chocolate aisle at your local market. Yes, if you want to improve your health and try to reduce inflammation, then consider the chocolatier to be your friend.

Chocolate is high in flavonols which are potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant compounds also found in certain plants, berries, tea, and wine. The highest levels of flavonols can be found in pure cocoa powder, but dark chocolate also contains abundant dosages. Flavonols stimulate the release of nitric oxide in the tissues which improves circulation by dilating blood vessels, and they inhibit platelet adhesions, lowering the risk of dangerous clotting. Adding milk to cocoa dampens this effect, hence diminishing the health benefits of milk chocolate. The anti-oxidant, nitric oxide boosting properties of cocoa are believed to be the reasons for so many of its potential health benefits.

Various research studies done on the world of dark chocolate and cocoa suggest it has the potential to help fight off chronic diseases like:

  • Heart Disease: Research from the University of Cambridge found that chocolate consumption reduced the risk of a heart attack by 37%. Chocolate has also been shown to improve heart cell function in congestive heart failure.
  • Strokes: The same Cambridge study showed a decrease in stroke risk of 29% due to chocolate consumption.
  • Hypertension: Most of the studies examining the effects of chocolate on blood pressure show modest reductions.
  • Type II Diabetes: Dark chocolate increases the cells sensitivity to insulin, thereby improving glucose utilization and lowering fasting insulin production.
  • Cholesterol: Studies have demonstrated that chocolate can lower harmful LDL levels and also increase HDL.
  • Cognitive Function: Flavonols can improve blood flow to the brain. One study done in Italy showed that cocoa actually helped improve mild cognitive impairment in elderly patients. Last year the New England Journal of Medicine published a study showing a direct correlation between a country’s per capita cocoa consumption and number of Nobel Prize winners, with Switzerland getting first place for both.
  • Digestion: Cocoa is actually a good source of dietary fiber.

You may be wondering what to buy in order to get all of these potential benefits? Here are some tips to making the highest quality selections:

  • Buy dark chocolate that is at least 70% chocolate.
  • Read the labels and avoid dangerous sugar additives like high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Look for mixtures with healthy fats like coconut oil or cocoa butter and steer clear of trans-fats.

So for Valentine’s Day this year, nothing says “I love you” like a bar of flavonoids.