(NaturalNews) When it comes to forbidden foods, chocolate often hits the top of the list. Although it tastes sublime, everyone knows that chocolate is a worthless junk food... isn't it? Some experts disagree and claim chocolate actually offers a myriad of health benefits. It makes sense that most of us want chocolate to be a health food, and perhaps that is why researchers have taken to studying chocolate to examine this beloved treat for any potential health benefits. And here's what they've discovered:
- Chocolate is rich in flavonoids, which have been shown to increase blood circulation. One study even demonstrated that eating chocolate could improve brain function, possibly due to improved blood flow to the brain.
- The flavonoids in chocolate also have powerful antioxidant properties that may offer protection against degenerative diseases. Studies have shown that high levels of flavonoids in the blood are associated with a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma and certain types of cancer.
- Some research indicates that chocolate can increase good cholesterol and prevent bad cholesterol from oxidizing. Since oxidized cholesterol is linked to heart disease, you can bet your heart loves chocolate as much as your taste buds do!
- Another study found that people eating a small amount of dark chocolate on a daily basis had lower levels of a protein associated with inflammation. Other studies demonstrate that chocolate may reduce the occurrence of blood clots and can lower blood pressure. This adds up to a lower risk of stroke.
Get the Right Stuff
Realizing that your favorite treat might actually be good for you can cloud your judgment, but don`t rush to the store and fill your basket with conventional milk chocolate candies. Beneficial components in chocolate are mostly found in dark chocolate. A high-quality organic dark or bittersweet chocolate is ideal, since it will contain the most flavonoids and less of the refined sugar commonly found in chocolate.
Eat The Right Amount
While chocolate may have untold benefits, this is not a license to eat as much chocolate as you can. Think moderation. Studies on chocolate show that one ounce of dark chocolate daily is enough to produce results, so don`t think you need to have several bars a day. But if you`d like to indulge in some dark chocolate from time to time, your splurge can be more guilt-free knowing there are some actual health benefits involved.
Elizabeth Walling is a freelance writer specializing in health and family nutrition. She is a strong believer in natural living as a way to improve health and prevent modern disease. She enjoys thinking outside of the box and challenging common myths about health and wellness. You can visit her blog to learn more: www.livingthenourishedlife.com/2009/10/welco...