Dec 07, 2017

December + Christmas = Chocolate

Chocolate has to be the ultimate comfort food; we reach for it when life lets us down, we turn to it in times of stress and we rely on it to put a smile on our face; especially at Christmas.  There’s something about the very satisfaction of just holding a chocolate bar in your hand, let alone the reassuring scent that hits you when you peel open the wrapper.  Once you hit this stage, there’s little chance of you turning back; the chocolate is a done deal.

But as good as chocolate makes you feel, is it really possible to have a healthy relationship with it?

The answer is yes; which if you’re a fan of the sweet stuff means you are probably jumping for joy right now! But we must clarify that eating chocolate and losing weight don’t go hand in hand.  And if you are surviving on a diet of chocolate, the chances of seeing any health benefits are relatively slim.

If we shift our focus to the ‘good chocolate’, that’s to say dark chocolate, with a cocoa percentage of around seventy per cent or more – then there is medically proven evidence that it really can be good for us.  As well as being packed with a host of nutrients that can positively affect your health, dark chocolate is also one of the best sources of antioxidants there is.  This means that it can lower the risk of heart disease, improve circulation and stimulate the brain.  And the darker the chocolate the better.

It has even been suggested that it may be beneficial to major health challenges such as autism, obesity and diabetes as well as lowering BMI. 

Exciting news! So, here are six major health benefits of eating a small amount of super dark chocolate regularly:

  1. It reduces the risk of stroke

Dark chocolate is rich in magnesium, a key nutrient that can have protective benefits for the heart and reduce the risk of heart disease.  A study has shown that eating up to 100g of the right chocolate every day can reduce the chance of suffering a stroke by 23 per cent.

  1. It makes for a happy heart

Dark chocolate has a host of benefits for the heart.  Not only can it help to lower blood pressure, it can also lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol which, together, can reduce the risk of heart disease. This is mainly because dark chocolate has inflammation-fighting properties known to reduce cardiovascular risk.

  1. It can improve blood flow

Cocoa is known to have anti-clotting, blood-thinning properties which help the body to form more nitric oxide.  This causes blood vessels to dilate and blood to flow more easily meaning it works in a similar way to aspirin, providing an improved blood flow and better circulation.

  1. It’s good for the brain

Chocolate contains naturally occurring antioxidants called flavanols which are believed to help reduce memory loss in older people.  They also boost the blood flow to the brain which will make you feel more awake and alert.

  1. It may prevent diabetes

Consuming a small amount of dark chocolate every day could reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes because cocoa has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity.  Dark chocolate has the highest cocoa content of all chocolates so, eaten in moderation, it might delay or prevent the onset of diabetes.

  1. It’s makes you feel good

And last but not least, chocolate makes you happy. It contains the chemical phenylethylamine (PEA), which encourages your brain to release feel-good endorphins.  We all know the momentary high we experience after eating some chocolate and, alongside all the other health benefits, it is an added bonus.

This said, chocolate isn’t all good and it should be eaten in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle.  Dark chocolate can hold its own as one of the healthier sweet treats, but a quantity of just 100 grams is still crammed with 600 calories.  This means that even the bittersweet varieties, packed with nutrients, can be high in calories, fat and sugar.  And the more processed the chocolate is, the worse the bad stuff gets.

For this reason, dark chocolate is ok but it’s best consumed in moderation.

If you are at risk from type 2 diabetes and would like to know a little more about the foods that could benefit you, then register for a free account at today where you can also view hints and tips on energy-boosting recipes and exercise routines…great for at home or in the workplace.

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