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The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
At first blush it seems to good to be true. Could it really be that chocolate, far from being a health hazard, is actually a health food with many highly sought after benefits? It seems that this may indeed be the case, and recent scientific studies have suggested that eating a moderate amount of dark chocolate, can have important health benefits.
In particular researchers have found important healthy compounds, known as flavonoids, in both raw and minimally processed chocolate and cocoa products. The flavonoids contained in dark chocolate seem to be similar to those found in green tea, which has long been used by traditional healers as a medicine and healing remedy.
According to the results of these preliminary studies into the possible health benefits, the antioxidants contained in dark chocolate may have the following important health benefits:
- The potential to lower blood pressure
- Improved blood circulation
- Lower levels of heart disease
- Improved function of the cells which line the blood vessels
- The ability to defend the body against the destructive molecules known as free radicals. These free radicals are thought to help trigger serious diseases such as heart disease, stroke and even some forms of cancer.
- Improved digestion
When we consider the possible health benefits, it is important to keep in mind that it contains two different kinds of flavonoids – catechin and epicatechins. Catechins are known to be present in abundant quantities in cocoa, and in minimally processed chocolates as well. Dark chocolate in particular has been found to contain more than three times the number of catechins as green tea, making it a potential blockbuster health food as well as a great treat. The catechins contained in dark chocolate are thought to be able to boost the immune system and help prevent heart disease and other chronic problems.
In addition to these benefits, it is also known to be a good source of magnesium and copper, which are known to help regulate the blood pressure and heartbeat.
It is also important to keep in mind that the vast majority of the health benefits attributed are limited mainly to dark chocolate, which is quite different than milk chocolate and other varieties. Those people wishing to enjoy the many health benefits of chocolate would do well to limit their consumption of light and white chocolate, and to focus instead on the delicious and slightly bitter treat we know as dark chocolate.
Fortunately for lovers of dark chocolate, the major manufacturers and wholesalers are responding to these well publicized studies by offering more and more to their customers. In addition to existing Special Dark bars, for instance, Hershey has introduced a special line of dark Hershey Kisses, as well as varieties of many of its most popular candy bars. In the future dark chocolate lovers should not have to look too hard for the delicious taste and possible health benefits of their favorite sweet treat.