The Health Benefits of Dark Chocolate
Dark Chocolate is often thought of as a delicacy that accompanies wine cheese or berries. However, some may steer clear of dark chocolate due to its bitter taste and instead, opt for milder versions such as milk or white chocolate. Either way there is no denying that the cocoa bean is packed full of heart-healthy, skin improving antioxidants. The medicinal properties of the power-packed super beans are no new discovery. In fact, your ancestors may have been using dark chocolate as a medication for many centuries.
Dark Chocolate was first consumed 3000 years ago by ancient South American civilizations who believed it to be a gift from God. The people of the ancient civilizations finely ground the cocoa bean and consumed it as a hot beverage to treat fatigue, depression, and stomach disorders. It was even used in Europe as a diuretic, and anti-depressive. Most interestingly, dark chocolate was used during the Medieval Times as an aphrodisiac. With its rich history, it is easy to understand why modern American scientists conducted research to test the effects of dark chocolate on heart health.
In recent years scientists in the health field have conducted studies to confirm what our ancestors already knew; dark chocolate is good for heart health and beauty and is also a tasty treat. According to a study published in Frontiers of Nutrition; consistent consumption of dark chocolate prevents cardiovascular disease and has a positive effect on skin health.
Each day your skin is exposed to toxins in the air, damage from makeup, touching, and other contaminants. The cocoa bean is full of antioxidants called flavonoids. Flavonoids prevent free radicals from causing damage to your cells. Simply put, antioxidants help fight off the damage your skin is exposed to.
A study published suggests that dark chocolate consumption can ward off and prevent skin conditions like hyperpigmentation, psoriasis, vitiligo, acne, and some forms of alopecia. Regular consumption of dark chocolate can even delay the effects of aging skin. Women who consumed more dark chocolate enjoyed a softer skin texture and fewer amounts of deep wrinkles.
As if that were not sweet enough; dark chocolate has the same anti-oxidizing effects on the heart too. The study suggests that people who ate more dark chocolate every day had significantly lower rates of cardiovascular disease as well as lower blood pressure than those who did not consume the bittersweet treat. But be careful, chocolates produced from the cocoa bean can be high in calories, whether it be dark, milk, or white chocolate. The trick to receiving its health benefits is to select the right kind of chocolate.
To reap the benefits be sure to select the right chocolate. Look for dark chocolate that is 70% cocoa or higher. A higher amount of cocoa represents a higher number of antioxidants. There are many types of dark chocolate to choose from. Just keep in mind that not all of them are created equally. Some chocolates are advertised as dark, but have such little dark chocolate to it, that there are hardly any medicinal benefits. Some brands even make attempts to drown out dark chocolates bitter taste with butter, sugar, and other added spices and ingredients.
When selecting a dark chocolate keep in mind that true dark chocolate has very few ingredients. Look for brands that have chocolate liquor or cocoa listed as the first ingredient and avoid selecting chocolates with trans-fat and/or high amounts of sugar. Whenever possible select dark chocolate brands from organic cocoa beans to avoid exposure to chemicals and pesticides. Most importantly keep in mind that the health benefits come from dark chocolate and cannot be received from milk or white chocolate both of which have no beneficial impact on health or beauty.
So how much dark chocolate should you eat to reap all its benefits? Dieticians suggest anywhere between 300 - 600 grams per day. That is about 3 smalls bars. You can eat the chocolate alone and allow it to melt on the tongue, or you could incorporate it into many different recipes and snacks. If the bitter taste of dark chocolate is a deterrent, try melting the chocolate in a double boiler and dip your favorite fruit into it. This snack works best with strawberry, banana, and pineapple. You could even do it the old way and drink dark chocolate melted and mixed into your favorite type of milk or milk substitute.
Dark Chocolate is an ancient secret full of beneficial medicinal properties. This superfood aids in heart health by lowering the risk of heart disease and heart-related death as well as contributing to healthy glowing, younger-looking skin. Although the bitter taste of dark chocolate may be an acquired taste, its benefits are well worth the effort. If it is not already a part of your regime, try adding dark chocolate to your box of beauty secrets today.