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Oct 07

Fear Not Chocoholics – There ARE Benefits

We all know that eating chocolate is good for our feel-good factor or even our soul, but now new research also proves that eating chocolate CAN be beneficial to our health, both physically and mentally. Chocolate has many different compounds in it and some of them are actually beneficial to us, not just in it’s taste either.

What are some of the benefits to us in the compounds of chocolate:

– Dark chocolate – helps fight inflammation

– Brain and nervous system protection, and may actually help to prolong your life thanks to a compound called resveratrol

– Cell repair due to chocolate containing antioxidants. Antioxidants help prevent something called free-radicals

– naturally occurring polyphenols in cocoa actually boost levels of the ‘good’ cholesterol, while at the same time reducing the bad’ variety, a win-win I say!

Are you one of those people that feels good after biting into a chocolate bar, or refer to yourself as a ‘chocoholic’? Well, there might just be a reason for being like this and for these feelings to occur. These feelings are due to a certain chemical:

The chemical reason is called anandamide, a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that temporarily blocks feelings of pain and depression. Apparently anandamide gives a similar sensation to marijuana, but not a strong ‘high’ that is associated with it. We all know that many of you resort to chocolate whenever life is a bit of a struggle, but this chemical is most probably what makes us feel better! There is also another another chemical that it contains that makes this feeling last even longer.

Chocolate for energy? We all know that chocolate contains caffeine which is a stimulant that can help heighten physical energy and alertness… and caffeine isn’t always necessarily a bad thing as we have seen publicised on the news quite a lot. Theobromine is another natural stimulant that also helps with physical and mental energy. These two chemicals working together has shown to improve blood pressure!

Healthy chocolate vs. bad chocolate:

There is a lot of debate with this subject, but I will give you the basics of what you should be looking for to help optimise these beneficial properties contained in the chocolate you eat:

– dark chocolate is best

– high cocoa content

– organic chocolate bars

– the less sugar, the better – sugar destroys our immune system

– natural is best: no artificial anything – this includes sweeteners, flavours and certain preservatives

– beware of chocolate with genetically modified ingredients

Remember, as with everything, moderation is the key here. Almost everything we eat in moderation has benefits to our body. I’m just saying, yes, chocolate has many health-giving benefits, but that doesn’t mean to go and eat 3 bars of it every day! The best recommended amount I have found is states that ‘6.7 grams a day (or one small square of chocolate two or three times a week) – that provides the best health benefits. While it undoubtedly comes as a pleasant surprise that chocolate is actually good for you, eating the right amount is crucial if you want it to be a benefit and not a liability.’ This is a well written piece of information and I love the bit at the end – let chocolate be a benefit and not a liability.

Enjoy your chocolate!

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