I have always known chocolate was good for me. There are times when nothing else can satisfy. But, I never thought it was going to be a healthy choice. Science is starting to make sense to me when it puts its seal of approval on a piece of chocolate.
Residents in Kuna a Panama Island rarely develop high blood pressure. It is only after a native leaves the island and develops a more western diet that high blood pressure becomes an issue. Scientists started looking at their diet habits to see is if this gave them clues into this phenomenon. They discovered it is customary for a native to drink 5 cups of cocoa a day. They also use cocoa in many food recipes. Cocoa is flavanol rich.
What are flavonoids? Flavonoids provide important protective benefits to plants shielding them from environmental toxins and repairing damage. When we eat plant-based foods rich in flavonoids, we benefit from these same antioxidant effects. Flavonoids are found in foods and beverages, such as apples, cranberries, chocolate, onion, peanuts, tea and red wine. The results of flavonoid rich foods in our diet are lower blood pressure and better cardiovascular health. That is great news!
Not all chocolates are the same. The more a chocolate is processed the more flavonoids are lost. Your best bet is dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is made with over 50% cocoa content which makes it full of heart healthy antioxidants. A few of the candy companies are starting to label their products that have higher cocoa content.
What can chocolate due for you?
Lowers blood pressure. Chocolate promotes blood flow the same way an aspirin does. It prevents platelets from sticking together or clotting. This makes chocolate “heart healthy”.
Potent antioxidant. Don’t forget all those flavonoids going to work for us.
Lessens anxiety creating that “feel good” sensation. Chocolate contains tryptophan an essential amino acid that produces serotonin.
Reduces pain by releasing endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s natural opiates.
Provides an energy lift. The caffeine, theobromine, and tyramine found in chocolate help make you alert.
Don’t get crazy with the calories. Chocolate is good for you but like all food it does contain calories and you would hate to lose any benefits from your chocolate consumption with an unhealthy weight. Packing on pounds can raise your blood pressure that no amount of chocolate can lessen.
I think two Hershey Dark Chocolate Kisses will be added to my daily routine. And let me just say, this is one bit of heart-healthy research that I am thrilled to comply with.