Do you like chocolate?

“Do you like chocolate? ” If asked, most people would smile and say, “of course I do. ” But if that same person asked if you thought chocolate was a good for your health, even beneficial, you’d probably have some doubts. For those doubters: Think again. Evidence has lead scientists and health-specialists around the world to agree that chocolate can be beneficial to your health. Dark chocolate has gotten a bad rap, almost since the late 1800’s when a man named Hershey began an empire lacking the true essence of chocolate.
Today, when people consider cardiovascular strength and fitness, chocolate is probably one of the last things they’d add to a health-conscious diet regimen. Then, if we pair dark chocolate consumption with empowering the heart, people would be waiting for the punch line. Dark chocolate and a good healthy heart can, in fact, be allies. But there are some rules and guidelines that must be followed. Christopher Columbus, during his ship-going years, made a stop off the Honduras coast and discovered that natives had a strange almond-like nut.
It was a cacao bean, the heart of what chocolate is. Chocolate, specifically dark chocolate, has received kudos from scientific research. Researchers correlate dark chocolate to a component of a healthy diet. When we enter the dessert and snack world of chocolate, there is potential for danger, even harm. The mass-production of Hershey’s and other chocolate companies have belittled the essence of pure chocolate of Belgium. Many people are more likely to agree with the old adage that says, “Beware, chocolate is not good for you. Thus, there is some truth to this statement. Archeologists say that Olmecs, which is now Mexico, were a people who drank chocolate a thousand years before Christ. The Mayans, a very cultured race, were the first to create a sacred drink of cacao. The Mayans roasted and powdered the beans. They mixed it with chiles, herbs, and wild honey to produce a special beverage. The cacao drink was regarded as one of the most special drinks of the Mayan race, being saved for times of tribute.

With all this historical strength behind cacao and chocolate, we can see that there is power in chocolate. Today, there are many types of chocolate, so the benefits depend almost entirely on what kind of chocolate that you choose to eat. Dark-chocolate-research has found evidence that it can help in building in a better heart and strengthening the cardiovascular system. Dr. Joseph Mercola, author of Total Health Program, was very skeptical when he first began to look at chocolate as a healthy snack.
This skepticism might be most people’s initial reaction because it’s been ingrained into our minds from a very young age that although chocolate tastes great it’s not good for you. To further Dr. Mercola’s skepticism, he found out that the basis of his secondary research came from a chocolate company. Dr. Mercola was concerned that this chocolate company was biased and merely attempting to reach consumers with a marketing technique to increase sales. The conflict of interest was too obvious. But his skepticism was soon diminished when he looked at some astounding scientific proof.
In just the past seven years, there have been more and more independent confirmations that dark chocolate truly has health benefits. These confirmations, according to Dr. Mercola, appeared to establish a framework for strengthening the fact that there indeed are health rewards from eating small amounts of flavonoid-rich dark chocolate. Careful reflection and study of the birth of chocolate helps to clear the picture a bit further. Chocolate, as I mentioned, stems from the cacao bean. Trying to ingest pure cacao lead you spit it out due to its bitterness.
The cacao, however, is a key ingredient surrounding dark chocolate’s health benefits. The missing ingredient of course is sugar. Sugar needs to be filtered in before chocolate can be regarded as such a luxury dessert that it’s matured into for society. There are hidden drawbacks to chocolate that must be remembered. For one, when shopping for dark chocolate keep in mind that many of the popular, processed brands readily available in markets and grocery stores are often contaminated with large amounts of lead.
You must be wary of those Hershey’s bars. Just as in most undertakings in life, moderation is the key. Dark chocolate consumption, when ingested in small amounts can actually be very good for you. Dr. Mercola wrote, “It is important to keep in mind, however, that you can derive a majority of the benefits chocolate provides (via flavonols) by consuming fruits like blueberries, apples and grapes, and most all vegetables, including broccoli, greens and onions. This is obviously a method Dr. Mercola would prefer most people utilize instead of chocolate.
It’s been ingrained in our heads since infancy to “eat your vegetables. ” It’s easy to see why Mercola counters his discussion regarding chocolate-health by promoting—as an aside—that you eat your vegetables, too. This is a wise promotion—especially for a doctor wanting to maintain his reputation for the mass public and his patients. However, a bowl of broccoli doesn’t have the same rewards as a little dark-chocolate-sugar-boost every once in a while, particularly when you realize it is good for your heart.
As I mentioned, when we consider dark chocolate as a moderating alternative, vegetables are boring—at least to the chocolate lover. Just remember, too much chocolate tips the scales toward disaster. So, if chocolate is something that makes you salivate then remember to follow some of these common sense rules: 1. Eat only dark chocolate—or organic, if you want to really streamline the healthy components of chocolate consumption. 2. Organic chocolate carries specific antioxidants that can shield the body from oxidative stress. 3.
Do not eat chocolate if you are battling serious disease or ailments. According to scientific data, the Kuna Indians of Panama eat three to four cups of flavanol-rich cocoa daily. The main ingredient, epicatechin, is responsible for offering vascular health benefits to the Kuna Indians. When they drank certain cocoa—another favored past-time of civilized nations around the world—they received higher levels of nitric oxide, where the flavanol was absorbed into the bloodstream. Lead contamination can be found in processed chocolate—sometimes extremely high quantities of lead.
The concern of lead contaminants in chocolate is not new. There was great concern, in the past, over processed cocoa plants being contaminated by leaded gasoline. The source of additional contamination is unknown. It might have come during the shipping process or somewhere along the manufacturing lines in chocolate plants. As scary as it sounds, there is some evidence that points out that high blood-lead levels in children can result in learning disabilities, damage to a child’s brain processing, and loss of some memory skills.
To counter this grave concern, further chocolate studies performed in two reputable scientific journals say dark chocolate is good for you, NOT white or milk or processed chocolate. Along with flavanol, there is evidence of other benefits. For one, flavonoids can raise levels of HDL cholesterol. This is beneficial cholesterol. It also acts as an antioxidant which protects human cells from free-radicals. It’s these very radicals that can lead to aging, heart disease, and certain cancers. Plant phenol is another substance that can help individuals out by lowering blood pressure.
The location of where chocolate is made is another important consideration. Chocolates that are made in Europe tend to be richer in cocoa phenols in comparison with cocoa in the United States. The United States, unfortunately, since the early 1900’s chose to focus on mass production and not on getting the most of this luxurious cacao bean. Now that you’ve got a glimpse of the health benefits of dark chocolate, it’s important to remember this: Nothing is simple about good chocolate and you won’t find it in most drug stores.
In fact, if you ask some chocolate connoisseurs about it, they’ll tell you that the term good chocolate was derived from palet or, which, when translated means “pillow of gold. ” David Lebovitz, a pastry chef and chocolate connoisseur, is another fierce advocate for the fancy final product of unprocessed dark chocolate. He has developed some recipes such as an easy-to-prepare Red-Wine and Apple Tart? David offers over 100 recipes to tantalize the taste buds while keeping health at the forefront front of your dietary plans. In closing, it’s important to remember that good dark chocolate is available all over the world.
Many European pastry chefs claim it is their art—and there is a lot of presence in Europe—but there isn’t a code set to be cracked by the nationalities of Europe. It is a world-wide consumable. You just have to do a little research to find the true chocolate where you live. Also remember that the benefits of chocolate come from using common sense and following these simple guidelines: 1. Eat only dark chocolate; 2. Eat chocolate in moderation; 3 do not eat processed chocolate. Share this information with friends and loved ones as you add this delectable sweet to your health-conscious diet.

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