When you reach out for that chocolate bar, you don’t have to feel entirely guilty about it. Despite its bad rap about causing weight gain, quite a number of health benefits are associated with chocolate. But first let us take a gander on the properties of chocolate. Chocolate is a product of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree seeds with its earliest known use dating back to the Olmec civilization of Central America.
So, what effect does consuming chocolate have on our health?
Possible Health Benefits of Chocolate
In the past decade chocolate has had a bad reputation, mostly due to its high fat content, its consumption has been associated with skin conditions like acne, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and coronary artery disease. However, the recent discovery of certain biologically active phenolic compounds has begun cleaning chocolate’s name. These compounds have a direct effect on aging, blood pressure regulation, oxidative stress and atherosclerosis.
Presently, chocolate is lauded for its antioxidant concentration, and a point of note is that the higher the cocoa content the less sugars it has and the more health benefits it presents. The potential health benefits presented by eating chocolate include:
- Lowered Cholesterol Levels
In a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, chocolate consumption helps in reducing the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels in our bodies. LDL is also known as “bad fats.” Chocolate bars contain plant sterols and cocoa flavanols, which have been known to have an effect on cholesterol levels.
- Chocolate may aid in preventing memory decline
Harvard Medical School Scientists, suggested that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day, maintains a healthy brain and improves memory in the elderly and also boosts cognitive function. In patients with Alzheimer’s disease, consumption of chocolate releases an extract called lavado that reduces or prevents damage to their nerve pathways slowing down conditions such as cognitive decline.
- Chocolate and reduced cardiovascular diseases risk
Studies on the properties of chocolate in relation to cardiovascular diseases concluded that its consumption helps lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disorders.
- Chocolate and stroke
Individuals who consume chocolate regularly are less likely to suffer from stroke, and those who had a stroke are less likely to die, this is according to a report done by Canadian scientists.
Other chocolate benefits in brief
Interests in chocolate study has led to numerous tests on the potential health benefits and others include:
- Eating chocolate while pregnant is beneficial to fetal growth and development.
- Dark chocolate is a boost for athletes’ performance. Eating dark chocolate improves performance in fitness training.
Risks and precautions for chocolate
Chocolate, despite its overall health benefits, has a high calorie count, this implies it has large amounts of sugars. Therefore, it might not be ideal for individuals on a weight loss program or those watching their weight. Moreover, the high sugar concentration causes tooth decay. In addition, chocolate causes poor bone mineralization and osteoporosis, this is according to a research published.
Chocolate has been viewed as a snack over the years and has been credited with weight gain. However, with afore mentioned benefits, I think it’s high time we viewed on its nutritional value, besides there are many ways to take chocolate and not just the processed snack bars.
Hot chocolate anyone?
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