Five Fabulous Facts You Need To Know About Chocolate


Who doesn’t love chocolate? Hey, be true to yourself buddy, you can indulge yourself every once in a while ;-) As normal as it seems, there are five fabulous facts you need to know about the infamous CHOCOLATE!

According to one certain expert, there are chocolate apologists, and there are chocolate advocates. How they differ is that chocolate apologists approach chocolate from a defensive point of view: Deep down, they consider it a vice, but they use scientific research demonstrating its virtues to justify their habit. Chocolate advocates like most of us, let’s consider ourselves as health conscious people, however, consider chocolate a bona fide health food, and actively seek out ways to include it in our diets for both the hedonic pleasure it provides as well as for its health benefits.

1. Chocolate is health food for the heart.

Regular chocolate intake has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease -- including events like heart attack and stroke -- as well as with improvements in blood pressure, the primary type of saturated fat in dark chocolate, called stearic acid, is unlikely to raise your LDL levels if you've got high cholesterol. Chocolate is also a good source of magnesium, a mineral that's essential to normal heart function. Research suggests that men with higher dietary intakes of magnesium have lower risk of coronary heart disease compared to those with lower intakes. The only word of caution related to chocolate and heart health relates to sugary milk chocolates, since high intake of added sugar has been linked to an increased risk of death from heart disease. When it comes to chocolate and health, the darker the chocolate, the better.

2. Chocolate has lots of iron!

The leading nutritional deficiency in the U.S. is iron deficiency, with toddlers and adolescent/adult females at particularly high risk. Sure, you can eat more iron-rich foods like beef chili or liver. But why not eat more chocolate, too? While exact iron content varies by type of chocolate, a reasonable rule of thumb is to assume about 1 milligram of iron per ounce of dark chocolate, which is about 6 percent of the recommended daily value. The USDA's National Nutrient Database reports an even higher amount, but it seems somewhat
inflated compared to other sources we've consulted. The darker the chocolate, the more iron it contains. Baking chocolate (5 milligrams of iron per one-ounce square) and cocoa powder (1 milligram of iron per 4 teaspoons) are even more concentrated sources of iron than ready-to-eat chocolate.

3. Chocolate is a particularly good vehicle for carrying probiotics.

Probiotics are health-enhancing bacteria that populate the human gut. When taken in supplement form, they must remain alive throughout their journey into our inner digestive sanctum in order to confer a health benefit. Staying alive requires safe passage through the acid bath of the stomach and arrival in our large intestine -- a trip as arduous as it sounds. As it turns out, not all carriers are equally suited for shepherding these bacteria
safely to the human gut. Chocolate, however, has been shown to be among the best delivery systems for supplemental probiotics. There are a handful of probiotic-fortified chocolates available on the market, though be aware that most contain highly-fermentable "prebiotics" like inulin or fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) that may cause gas and bloating in digestively sensitive folks, particularly at higher doses.

4. Chocolate is an athlete's secret weapon.

Chocolate has a lot going for it when it comes to sports nutrition. Intense physical activity results in oxidative stress to the cells, and this stress is often implicated in muscle fatigue. But research is inconclusive regarding the benefits versus risks of taking antioxidants in supplement form to help offset this oxidative damage. Until that question is settled, an antioxidant-rich diet is likely a safer bet for athletes. As luck would have it, cocoa is a rich source of food-based antioxidants called flavonoids. These flavonoids may also help improve blood flow throughout the body -- an added bonus for athletes. Additionally, lowfat chocolate milk has been shown to contain the optimal ratio of carbohydrates to protein, making it the recovery drink of choice for many endurance athletes.

5. Eating chocolate in pregnancy may help protect against pre-eclampsia.

Given what we know about chocolate's effect on blood vessel function and blood pressure, it's not surprising that higher chocolate intake -- particularly in the first and third trimesters -- has been associated with a decreased risk of developing pre-eclampsia, a dangerous type of hypertension that can occur as the result of pregnancy. Research suggests that five or more servings per week may be the therapeutic "dose," so to speak, so don't be shy, ladies!

Chocolate might be good for you but, everything should be taken in moderation!

Cheerio!

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