A prescription to eat chocolate? It sounds to good to be true but it may just become a reality in the future given the surprising benefits the medical community is finding about consuming dark chocolate.
A recent German study found that people with mild high blood pressure who ate a daily dose of dark chocolate saw a significant drop in their blood pressure. Their counterparts, who ate a similar amount of white chocolate, saw no drop in blood pressure. Both groups adjusted their total daily calorie consumption to account for the added chocolate calories.
An Italian study divided people into three groups. The first group received 100 grams of dark chocolate, the second group had 100 grams of dark chocolate with a glass of whole milk and the third group received 200 grams of milk chocolate. The study found that the people who ate dark chocolate by itself , showed the highest level of antioxidants in their blood. Dark chocolate is loaded with the anti-oxidants polyphenols, flavanols, catechins, among others. These anti-oxidants are excellent at fighting free radical damage and have also been found to lower oxidized LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Another recent study found that certain “good” bacteria in the stomach called Bifidobacterium and lactic acid bacteria eat dark chocolate, ferment it and then release anti-inflammatory compounds that benefit cardiovascular tissue, reducing the risk of stroke.
Studies show dark chocolate is also loaded with vitamins and minerals including iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and selenium. In fact, some view cravings for chocolate as a sign of a possible magnesium deficiency. Dark chocolate also offers a fair amount of fiber.
To reap the benefits of chocolate, not just any old chocolate will do. You must eat dark chocolate which is at least 70-80% cocoa content and even with all these benefits, moderation is key. Chocolate is still a high calorie food with some added sugar. (Although, the higher the cocoa content, the less the sugar.) Look for a good organic brand to get your daily fix. One to two squares of dark chocolate savored each day is all you need to reap these health benefits.
Photo by Urban Wired on Flickr.