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Chocolate: Good for the Mind, Body & Spirit

 

“A square of chocolate a day could keep the cardiologist away.

Foods that have an incredible array of health benefits that go well beyond just their nutrient value are considered
super-foods.”

 

 It has been shown as proof positive that carefully prepared chocolate is as healthful a food as it is pleasant; that it is nourishing and easily digested...that it is above al helpful to people who must do a great deal of mental work...~Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

Any true chocolate connoisseur can tell you that this delectable "food of the gods" is good for your mind and your spirit. Researchers—nutritionists, food scientists, nurses and cardiologists—have also demonstrated scientifically that chocolate is good for your body.

Knowledge of chocolate’s benefits is not new. The ancient Aztecs discovered a "divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue." A cup of this invaluable, refreshing and nourishing drink, made by crushing the seeds of the Theobroma cacoa tree, permitted a man to walk for a whole day without food. Nutrition researcher, Michael Levine, among others, described chocolate as being the world's perfect food—chemically speaking. (1,2)

The combination of cocoa butter (fats) and sugar in chocolate have a lower glycemic index than might be expected. Dark chocolate has a low of 22, milk chocolate 40 and 70 for chocolate bars with higher sugar content. (The glycemic index indicates how quickly the blood sugar [glucose] levels increase two to three hours after eating carbohydrates, as the carbohydrates are converted into glucose.)

Another factor to consider when eating chocolate is the fat content. Fats can make up as much as 50% of the total calories in a bar of chocolate, depending on the type of chocolate and whether or not nuts are included. (19) Although the fat content of chocolate is relatively high, not all of the fat present is harmful. Cocoa butter is comprised of palmitic acid and stearic acid, both saturated fats and oleic acid, a heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. Palmitic acid can raise blood cholesterol, but only represents a portion of the total fats in chocolate. Stearic acid and oleic acids do not raise blood cholesterol, in fact oleic acid may help in reducing blood cholesterol. (14,17-20) Dark chocolate, made with a high cocoa butter content, may help to increase levels of HDL, the good cholesterol. On the other hand chocolate made with palm, coconut or hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, instead of cocoa butter is less healthy and can raise bad cholesterol levels. (8, 16)

Most people, especially true aficionados, agree that cocoa and chocolate are delicious, delectable and desirable in whatever form, whether consumed as foods or as beverages. Evidence from many research studies (4-12) have demonstrated true benefits of cocoa—to promote vascular health and protect the heart.

 The heart-protecting properties of dark chocolate have been recognized for some time. Numerous dietary intervention studies have demonstrated cardioprotective effects of flavanol-rich foods and beverages. Black tea, green tea, red wine, various fruits and berries, cocoa and cocoa products all contain high concentrations of flavonoids, phenolic phytochemicals, which have been extensively investigated for their chemopreventive and antioxidant capacities. (4,5) Flavonoids appear to exert their cardioprotective effects by defending against oxidation, improving endothelial function, reducing the tendency of blood to clot by improving platelet function and decreasing hypertension and reducing the risk of heart disease. (4-8) Research by Lee et all, suggested that cocoa may have more benefits than teas and red wine because of greater amounts phenolic phytochemicals and a higher antioxidant capacity. (6)

 Quelle:

Medical Wellness Archives

Chocolate: Good for the Mind, Body & Spirit

2006: Volume 3, Number 1

Kirsti A. Dyer, MD, MS, CWS