7 benefits of eating Chocolate this Christmas

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With Christmas rapidly approaching, you might still be struggling with what to get for everyone in your life. Perhaps you’ve decided on a few of the ‘big’ presents, but you’re still considering getting a few more little things.

You’ve gone through all the traditional stocking fillers in your mind and have drawn a blank. It’s not that you can’t come up with anything, it’s just that it is the time of year that everyone tends to overindulge, and the best idea you’ve come up with is some chocolate.

And we all know that chocolate is bad for you, right?

WRONG!

Chocolate can be good for you

Chocolate is a complicated thing. There are so many brands and types on the market that it can be difficult to choose one that you like the most, but if you want to get the best health benefits, there are a couple of things to look out for.

Dark chocolate tends to be better for you than milk chocolate, as the majority of the benefits provided by chocolate come from the cocoa content. When you get to 70% or 80% (or even higher) cocoa content, you’ll be choosing the most beneficial chocolate. (1)

The second thing to look out for is sugar content – the lower the sugar content, the better.

Benefit 1 – Heart and Circulation

In observational studies, eating chocolate regularly – especially darker chocolate – has been linked to reducing the risk of death from heart disease by around 50%, and also to lowering the amount of calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%. (2, 3)

Consumption of chocolate has also been shown to lower blood pressure, which can be beneficial to those who have higher-than-normal blood pressure. It also has the capability of thinning the blood which can reduce the risk of strokes and unnecessary clotting.

Benefit 2 – Good source of Antioxidants

As part of the process of using oxygen, the human body produces a toxic byproduct known as a free radical. Free radicals can damage cells and systems in the body but can be kept under control by antioxidants.

Chocolate contains polyphenols and flavanols that act as antioxidants, and the darker the chocolate, the more polyphenols and flavanols are contained in it.

The more of these antioxidants you consume, the better they are at combatting the toxic free radicals. (4)

Benefit 3 – Lowers “bad” cholesterol

There are two types of cholesterol in your body – High Density Lipids and Low Density Lipids. Cholesterol as a whole benefits your body (up to certain levels) as it is needed to make certain hormones, vitamins, and other things vital to your survival.

However, the high density variety (HDL) is the most useful form. Low density cholesterol (LDL) can get stuck in your arteries and build up into a blockage.

The flavonoids in chocolate will help prevent the LDL from oxidizing – LDL is prone to oxidization and this is one major factor that causes it to adhere to the artery wall. The flavonoids may also potentially increase the amount of HDL present in the bloodstream, which is beneficial. 

Benefit 4 – It protects your brain

Dark chocolate contains a polyphenol called epicatechin – specifically epigallocatechin-3-gallate, more often called EGCG.

Among other benefits, EGCG prevents the formation of toxic beta-amyloid plaques, which are a kind of sticky protein. Unchecked, this protein can cause issues by “sticking” in the brain – these plaques are the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. (5)

In short, EGCG helps prevent at least one of the causes of Alzheimer’s.

Benefit 5 – It may help with diabetes

Diabetes is a condition that is caused by the body either not destroying the cells that produce insulin, or not enough insulin is produced, and the body’s cells don’t react to it. Insulin regulates blood sugar levels, and levels that are too high or too low can cause serious medical problems – even death.

Dark chocolate has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity in healthy people, and so may have the effect of staving off the condition in pre-diabetics or could potentially help those already suffering. (6)

Additionally, eating a small piece of chocolate prior to a meal can help to trigger the hormones that notify the brain that you are full. Some types of diabetes are exacerbated by being overweight, and this may again aid that situation by reducing the amount of hunger a person feels.

Benefit 6 – It is full of minerals

Dark chocolate contains an assortment of vitamins as well as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper, and manganese. (7)

Benefit 7 – Chocolate makes you happy

Aside from anything else, chocolate just makes you feel happy. The physical sensation of eating it stimulates the pleasure areas of the brain, while chocolate itself contains tryptophan. The stimulates the production of serotonin in the brain, which works in the same way as an anti-depressant. (8)

So as well as all the health benefits contained within your chocolate treat, it can make you feel better too!

APOTHECARY 27 SUGGESTS 

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Dark Praline Hot Chocolate Spoon by Cocoa loco
A lusciously indulgent hot chocolate spoon made from our smooth 55% dark chocolate combined with roasted hazelnut praline. Dark praline chocolate spoons are hand crafted in small batches by chocolatiers and hand packaged in Cocoa Locos’ UK chocolate barn, this gourmet chocolate is vegan, fair-trade certified, palm oil free and organic too, making the perfect gift for any chocolate lover. Stir the chocolate spoon in a cup hot milk and enjoy the most delicious Cocoa Loco chocolate! available in white, milk or dark chocolate.

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Cacao Maca Magic Organic Latte by Pukka
Let the magic of maca and the power of ashwagandha soothe your soul in a cup of chocolatey latte delight. Deliciously smooth, these herbal heroes will entice you into a swirl of organic goodness.

Made with love and herbal wisdom, this latte uses the finest grade herbs for the benefit of people, plants and planet.

References

  1. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/food-and-drink/features/chocolate-can-eat-good-health-darker-better/

  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16505260/

  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20655129

  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5465250/

  5. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319748.php

  6. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/81/3/611/4648949

  7. https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/sweets/10638/2

  8. https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/dark-chocolate-serotonin-levels-5558.html