Guest Author - Katherine Tomlinson
It’s that time of year. As the new year approaches, you’re probably putting together a list of resolutions and making plans for changes that will result in a healthier, happier lifestyle in 2011. Don’t forget to make chocolate a part of those plans! Chocolate is good for you, in so many ways.
For example…Dark chocolate—containing more than 70 percent cocoa solids—is an anti-oxidant that often surpasses green tea, red wine and blueberries.
Chocolate and high blood pressure. Thank the Aussies! Earlier this year, research carried out at Adelaide University (combining a number of studies from the 50s onward) found that amounts of dark chocolate as small as six grams (that’s 0.21 ounces) every day could lower blood pressure in those with hypertension. (Oddly, chocolate does not have any effect on those with normal blood pressure.) The difference is not huge, but is enough (in some cases) to lower borderline to normal just like a half-hour of brisk walking or other daily exercise.
The study concluded that people who ate just one bar of chocolate a week were 22 percent less likely to have a stroke, but they also added the warning that this is not a case of “more is better,” reminding all that the sugar and fat in chocolate can contribute to obesity.
Thank the flavenoids! These chemicals are known to expand blood vessels allowing for easier blood flow and thus lowering the pressure. Eating dark chocolate is also good for the heart. Menopausal women may find that eating a small amount of very dark chocolate will ease some menopausal symptoms while relaxing the body in general. (A massage couldn’t hurt either.)
Chocolate lowers cholesterol. Those same flavenoids in dark chocolate have been found to decrease the amount of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) in the body. And while chocolate—even dark chocolate—contains a significant amount of fat, much of it is in the form of stearic acid, which has been shown to have no effect on cholesterol levels, and oleic acid, which is monosaturated fat like those found in healthy olive oil.
Chocolate milk maximizes your workout. Sure, you shouldn’t drink it all the time, but the combination of antioxidant cocoa and the nutrients in milk (starting with calcium, which everyone needs as they get older) makes it a supercharged snack. In fact, a cup of chocolate milk can do as much as those nasty-tasting gels and drinks to replenish lost vitamins and minerals after a workout.
And the best news about chocolate? Eating small amounts of dark chocolate can help you live longer. So, live long and prosper and enjoy your chocolate.