Many people crave chocolate, and up until now they were told to avoid giving in to too many chocolate cravings because, like all candy, chocolate is bad for you since it contains so much refined sugar. However, dark chocolate does not contain the same amount of milk or sugar as milk chocolate, and scientists are now finding that dark chocolate may have some benefits to your health. While you should never overdo it, it may not be so bad to give in to a chocolate craving once in a while with a little bit of organically grown, hand made dark chocolate.
It has now been found that dark chocolate may be good for your health. One study found that cocoa helps your body produce nitric oxide, which is important for blood flow and blood pressure. It works similarly to low-dose aspirin in promoting a healthy blood flow (with the exception that the effects of aspirin are longer lasting).
Cocoa also contains many flavanoids (that are called flavonols in chocolate), which are plant compounds with high antioxidant properties. These prevent wear-and-tear damage on your cells. Also, the flavonols in cocoa prevent fat-like substances in the bloodstream from clogging arteries.
Tryptophan and cannabinoids found in dark chocolate can also reduce anxiety and promote relaxation, while the stimulants theobromine, caffeine, tyramine and phenylethylamine (PEA) in cocoa provide a individual with a much-needed lift. Cocoa may also trigger the brain’s natural opiates, which can relieve pain and promote a feeling of well-being.
Why Chocolate May Not Be All That Good
While cocoa does contain tryptophan, cannabinoids, theobromine, caffeine, tyramine and phenylethylamine, it does not contain as much as some other foods. For example, a cup of coffee contains a lot more caffeine than a bar of chocolate. In this case, eating a bar of chocolate may not provide the psychological effects that these components promise. However, combined with other foods that contain these things, a more noticeable effect may be present.
Another concern in that much of the active health-promoting ingredients in cocoa are destroyed during the production of chocolate. So the potential chocolate has for your health becomes less with more processing. Chocolate production companies today are looking for ways to minimize the losses of these chemicals.
Finally, if you do want to get any possible benefits from chocolate, it matters what kind of chocolate you eat. Avoid milk chocolate and chocolate sold as candy, since these contain high percentages of milk and refined sugar. Instead, look for dark chocolates with high cocoa content (65% or higher) that are grown organically and made with as little processing as possible, such as by hand.