Got Chocolate? Chocolate & Your Health

Eating chocolate may be beneficial to your health. Some studies have found that it may help protect against stroke and lower the risk of heart attack.

Have you ever experienced one of those midnight cravings – you know, the ooey-gooey, sweet and chocolatey, decadent kind of craving which can never be truly satisfied without a sense of guilt? Well, here’s something that just might have you feeling differently about that bar of unopened chocolate on your kitchen table.

Benefits of Eating Chocolate

In an article published on allchocolate.com, dark chocolate alone may have bountiful benefits to your health, so long as it is eaten in moderation: “Two tablespoons of natural cocoa have more antioxidant capacity than four cups of green tea, 1 cup of blueberries, and one and a half glasses of red wine.” Really good news for cardiovascular health.

According to the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), chocolate is rich in flavonoids, an antioxidant which may help protect against strokes. In one study done at St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto, 44,489 individuals who consumed one serving of chocolate each week were 22 percent less likely to have a stroke than those who did not consume any chocolate. In another study, 1,169 individuals who consumed 50 grams (2 ounces) of chocolate per week were 46 percent less likely to die from stroke than those who did not consume any chocolate, reports MedicineNet.com in the article “Chocolate Chips Away at Stroke Risk.”

Another study examined the benefits of chocolate when consumed by middle aged men and women over a duration of eight years. The study compared those who ate the most chocolate with those who ate the least, with the difference between the two groups being only six grams, or an equivalent of one small square of chocolate per day. The study found those who consumed more chocolate lowered their risk for heart attack by roughly a quarter, and cut the risk of stroke in half. This was reported by BBC News in its March 30, 2010 article “Chocolate Can Cut Blood Pressure and Help Heart.” So what exactly is the secret ingredient that makes chocolate heart-healthy?

According to the article “Antioxidants 101” written by Gloria Tsang on HealthCastle.com, cocoa contains an antioxidant called flavanols, a type of flavonoid that helps reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and prevents vascular disease. The role of antioxidants prevents and repairs oxidative destruction in our bodies, the same kind of damage which results in not only vascular disease, but diabetes, cancer, macular degeneration, and other chronic diseases as well.

Milk Chocolate vs. Dark Chocolate

You will most likely reap more benefits from consuming dark chocolate than milk. Why? Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate doesn’t contain as much added junk – fats and sugars – and is less likely to have undergone severe processing, which can lead to a loss of flavanols found in the cocoa. But chocolate lovers should also beware: since chocolate is high in calories and fat, it is best to consume this sweet treat in moderation.

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