It may sound crazy to some. Can chocolate really be healthy? Well, as long as it is the right kind, it absolutely can be. The determining factor as to whether or not the chocolate is a diabetes-inducing sugar bomb is the cacao content. The higher the cacao content, the more health benefits the chocolate can offer. Typically dark chocolate contains a higher amount of cacao, and it doesn`t have to taste bitter. As long as it has at least 70% cacao content, chocolate can be the tasty compliment to your health that you are looking for.
High quality chocolate is full of vitamins, flavonoids, magnesium (of which cacao is the highest natural source), and healthy fats. Among these are vitamins A, B1, B2, D, and E. Flavonols found in chocolate have also been found to prevent lipid oxidation and improve blood flow.
In one study regarding the beneficial effects of chocolate, sixteen healthy men participated in a double-blind cross-over study. Participants were randomly instructed to drink cocoa that contained either a high or low amount of flavanols. In the middle of the study, the participants switched the type of drinks. This means that those who had previously had a drink high in flavanols were now consuming a cocoa drink low in flavanols. Investigators measured blood flavanol levels, flow-mediated dilation of blood vessels (which indicates cardiovascular events), and nitric oxide production.
Blood samples of the participants were taken before and after drinking the cocoa, in order to test the absorption of cocoa flavanols. They were tested every hour until six hours after the initial drink. The study found that after consuming the cocoa containing high amounts of flavanols, the blood contained high levels of various healthy flavanols.
What does this mean? The body actually utilizes the flavanols found in chocolate and absorbs them quite readily. This leads to improved blood flow and, therefore, improved heart health. Chocolate, considered to be a danger to heart health, is actually a heart-helping treat given that it is the right quality. It is important to purchase chocolate that is 100% organic and contains no artificial ingredients or harmful food additives such as aspartame. While the benefits of chocolate are numerous, artificial ingredients present in most brand name chocolate ensure that it will do nothing but damage your health.