Does Eating Chocolate Benefit Your Health?

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Have you ever heard the rumor that eating chocolate is actually good for you?

Often, when you’re on a healthy diet but are peckish for something a little more savory, your friends may tell you that they heard eating chocolate is actually good for you. But is it true?

The answer, surprisingly, is yes, but it comes with a catch, and so long as you eat it in moderation as part of a healthy lifestyle, that is.  

The Health Benefits of Eating Chocolate

That catch that comes with chocolate being healthy as part of a balanced diet is which chocolate you choose.

Obviously we don’t mean a chocolate bar with caramel and biscuit inside it. But unfortunately, we don't just mean plain chocolate either. 

Dark chocolate, especially the kind with 70% or more cocoa solids, is what is recognized for its numerous health benefits and with Easter fast approaching, this is great news!

However, it's important to ensure you’re consuming the right kind of chocolate to reap these benefits.

Unfortunately, milk chocolate and white chocolate, with their lower cocoa and higher sugar content, don't offer the same health benefits as dark chocolate, but ones with a higher percentage of chocolate solids and cocoa butter can also have health benefits. 

Nutrient-Rich Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate is packed with essential trace elements and nutrients, including iron, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, B1, C, D, and E.

Cocoa is also the highest natural source of magnesium, a vital mineral linked to various health benefits.

Magnesium deficiency has been associated with hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, joint problems, and premenstrual tension (PMT or PMS).

Health Benefits for Everyone

Both men and women can benefit from the high magnesium content in dark chocolate.

Magnesium supports cardiovascular health and helps manage hypertension. 

While the fat in high-quality dark chocolate is technically a saturated fat, primarily in the form of stearic acid and palmitic acid.

Stearic acid is unique among saturated fats because it does not appear to raise cholesterol levels as other saturated fats do.

If you’re someone who is worried about their cholesterol levels, check out the SelfDecode genetic test to get a comprehensive breakdown of your genes and personalized insights to help you manage your cholesterol levels effectively.

Or schedule a consultation with me here. 

For women, the premenstrual drop in progesterone levels is often responsible for mood swings.

Adding magnesium to the diet can increase progesterone levels and alleviate these symptoms.

If you are experiencing PMS or other menstrual cycle symptoms it could be caused by low progesterone or excess estrogen, the DUTCH hormone test gives you a comprehensive analysis of your hormones.

The Power of Antioxidants in Dark Chocolate

According to research published in the August 28 issue of Nature by Mauro Serafini, PhD, of Italy’s National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research, dark chocolate is a powerful antioxidant.

Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, which are harmful molecules linked to heart disease and other ailments.

Serafini’s study found that milk may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate, negating the potential health benefits.

The same goes for drinking tea with milk. So, when it comes to choosing chocolate, always opt for dark and avoid washing it down with milk.

Remember, moderation is key to enjoying the health benefits of dark chocolate.

Choosing the Healthiest Chocolate

Plain dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids is the healthiest option, satisfying your chocolate cravings without excessive sugar, saturated fat, or hydrogenated vegetable oils (HVO).

For milk or white chocolate lovers, select products with a minimum of 30% chocolate solids for milk chocolate or 30% cocoa butter for white chocolate.

Many chocolate lovers make the mistake of choosing cheap or brand-name chocolates that are low in chocolate solids (averaging less than 20%, with some containing less than 7%).

These chocolates are high in sugar, saturated fats, and other health hazards like HVO, making them detrimental to both dental and overall health.

Top 5 Reasons to Avoid Dark Chocolate

While dark chocolate has many health benefits in moderation for some people it can trigger unwanted reactions, here is a list of some of the things to watch out for.

Histamine Content

Dark chocolate contains histamine, which can trigger adverse reactions in individuals with histamine intolerance.

Symptoms may include headaches, hives, digestive issues, and respiratory problems.

Arginine Content

The arginine content in dark chocolate can promote the replication of the herpes simplex virus, potentially triggering cold sores in susceptible individuals.

Managing arginine intake is crucial for those prone to outbreaks.

Caffeine and Theobromine

Dark chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, stimulants that can cause insomnia, increased heart rate, nervousness, and other issues, especially when consumed in large quantities or by sensitive individuals.

Calorie Content

Dark chocolate is calorie-dense and can contribute to weight gain if consumed excessively.

Managing portion sizes is important to avoid negative impacts on weight and overall health.

Tyramine Content

Dark chocolate contains tyramine, which can trigger migraines and increase blood pressure in individuals sensitive to this compound.

Monitoring tyramine intake is necessary for those prone to such reactions.

Avoiding or moderating the consumption of dark chocolate can help mitigate these potential negative effects, particularly for individuals with specific sensitivities or health concerns.

Conclusion

In summary, to enjoy the health benefits of chocolate, choose high-quality dark chocolate with high cocoa content, consume it in moderation, and avoid pairing it with milk. Happy and healthy chocolate indulgence!

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