It is not widely known, but there are a lot of dark chocolate benefits that can be had from that little bar of guilty pleasure you can buy over the sweetie counter.
Data from epidemiological studies has shown conclusively that regular consumption of plant-based foods and beverages can lead to a reduction of risk for stroke and coronary heart disease.
One of the many beneficial plant-derived foods, which may surprise some, is cocoa, which experts confirm as being an important mediator for stroke and heart disease.
Study after study has proved the beneficial effects of cocoa for people who are experiencing insulin resistance, high blood pressure and problems with platelet and vascular functions.
The Health Benefits of Cocoa
Early evidence of the health benefits of cocoa was seen among Kuna Indians. This group of native people lives on one of the islands off the coast of Panama.
The Kuna population was found to be a culture protected from the risks associated with age-dependent increase in blood pressure.
This group of people was also free from any signs of arterial hypertension.
When clinical studies were conducted, experts found that the ability of the Kuna population to ward off diseases common to the aging population in other cultures can be greatly attributed to their regular consumption of cocoa.
Their habit of drinking cocoa beverage on a daily basis has almost completely spared them from having high blood pressure and from experiencing any decline in their kidney function.
Death rate resulting from cardiovascular events is significantly lower than cardiovascular mortality rate of other Pan-American citizens, including those in nearby Panama City.
Experts believe that the mortality rate in other Pan-American cultures is due mainly to environmental factors rather than genetic.
Many Kuna natives who have migrated to urban Panama City have ceased to stick to their habit of drinking home prepared cocoa beverage and replaced it with other beverages that have lower or no flavanol content at all.
These people were found to have cardiovascular disease rates on par with other Panama City residents, not Kuna villagers.
Why are Dark Chocolate Benefits Better than Milk Chocolate?
In a study which showed that consumption of dark chocolate can help improve antioxidant levels in the body, the same effect was not observed among groups of people who consumed milk chocolate.
In addition, researchers ascertained that consuming milk chocolate while dark chocolate is being consumed will deplete the antioxidant benefits of the dark chocolate.
A group of researchers from Scotland confirmed that the amount of flavonoids found in dark chocolate is double the antioxidant content of milk chocolate.
For the sake of your health, it is important to understand why dark chocolate is different to other chocolate.
Simply put, the best way to get maximum benefit from the antioxidant properties of cocoa is to eat the unprocessed bean. Pound for pound, it is a true antioxidant powerhouse.
However, the active ingredients that are beneficial to health also make the bean quite bitter.
When it is processed into chocolate, many of these are removed to make it more palatable.
Also, quite a bit of milk and sugar is added to make tasty, but unhealthy, milk chocolate.
Beneficial dark chocolate contains at least 70 per cent cocoa, in some white chocolates it is a minor ingredient.
When buying, remember that the darker the chocolate, the better, as darker chocolates contain greater amount of flavonoids.
Steer clear of chocolates that only contain cocoa fat, flavorings and sugar which are more often found in white chocolate.
You should also avoid those chocolate products that contain nougat or caramel fillings because these are loaded with fat and sugar which cancels out the benefits of eating dark chocolate.
Most of all, even though their antioxidant properties are deemed healthy it is important to keep in mind that even dark chocolate consumption must be done in moderation.