(NaturalNews) Studies have now proven that chocolate is good for you. It is rich in antioxidants and has many health benefits, including lowering blood sugar and cholesterol. Cocoa comes from the Theobromo cacao plant. Half of the cocoa bean is made of fat in the form of cocoa butter. Cocoa powder is the edible non-fat part of the cacao bean. Most of the fats in chocolate are saturated, but it also contains lots of the "good" fats: oleic and linoleic acids.
Cocoa has one of the highest concentration antioxidants of any foods, in the form of the flavonoids: catechin and epicatechin. ORAC scores are used to measure the level of antioxidant properties in foods. This oxygen radical absorbance capacity test rates cocoa higher than most foods, including green tea or red wine.
Studies have shown that dark chocolate decreases blood pressure. This function may be attributed to cocoa's action as a renin-angiotension enzyme inhibitor, the same mechanism addressed by blood pressure medication. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in 2003 reported on a German study of 13 people between the ages of 5 and 64 who had blood pressure numbers of 153 over 84. The group was divided into two groups. One group ate a 100-gram bar of white chocolate daily and the other group ate a dark chocolate bar. Those who ate the dark chocolate showed lower blood pressure, but alas for white chocolate lovers, this candy bar did not show any health benefits. The benefits were attributed to the cocoa phenols that are present in the dark cocoa powder from the cocoa bean. The darker the chocolate, the more health benefits.
The cocoa bean also contains insoluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol levels. The fiber in chocolate has also been shown to reduce the rate of colorectal cancer, and to reduce constipation.
Dark chocolate contains magnesium, which helps soothe the nervous system, relax muscles, reduce PMS and build teeth and bones. Dark chocolate also contains the mineral copper, which is needed in many metabolic functions in the body.
Chocolate may even slow dementia. Cocoa's content of antioxidants aids in memory, along with the nutrients vitamin E and vitamin B.
By increasing nitric oxide intake, cocoa has been shown to help stimulate insulin to uptake blood sugar, thereby stopping the insulin resistance that can lead to diabetes. And cocoa has even been shown to repair liver cells after alcohol consumption.
As an antidepressant, chocolate really shines. The "love chemical" phenylethylamine helps to raise the serotonin and dopamine levels. This curbs appetite, stimulates the nervous system, and even raises libido.
Chocolate has now proven itself to be a nutritious food, as well as a tempting desert. There are many suppliers now importing fair trade, organic or raw chocolate products. Look for chocolate that has a high cocoa content. Check your local candy store for this health-giving food, disguised as a delicious treat.
Melanie Grimes is a writer, award-winning screenwriter, medical journal editor, and adjunct faculty member at Bastyr University. She also teaches homeopathy at the Seattle School of Homeopathy and the American Homeopathic Medical College. A trained homeopath, she is the editor of the homeopathic journal, Simillimum, and has edited alternative and integrative medical journals for 15 years. She has taught creative writing, founded the first Birkenstock store in the USA and authored medical textbooks. Her ebook on Natural Remedies for the Flu is available at: http://melanie-grimes.blogspot.com/2009/04/b... Follow her blog at http://melanie-grimes.blogspot.com/ www.melaniegrimes.com