April 06, 2017

Dark Chocolate

Articles by Dr. Erdman are for informational purposes, and are not to be taken as specific medical advice.

Since we are approaching the Easter season, many people celebrate with gifts of chocolates and candies. First, let’s remember why we have Easter celebrations. Secondly, we can look on the bright side of some of the candy we may consume.

Obviously, most candy is nothing but sugar and generally not what we look to eat regularly or in any serious amounts. Sugar in general is just not healthy and most candy is just that, not healthy.

What if I told you there is a sweet treat that is tasty and healthy? Of course I’m talking about dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains a high amount of cacao seeds, which is the secret to its healthfulness. The darker the chocolate the higher percentage of cacao, and the healthier it is. 
Actually raw cacao is the best option, but it is very bitter and not tolerated by most people. Choose a dark chocolate with 70% cacao or more for the best health benefits.

Dark chocolate is turning out to be one of the most powerful superfoods, ranking right up there with the most anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich foods known to exist. Cacao contains almost 400 varieties of polyphenols.

If the possibility that eating chocolate may help you prevent diabetes and heart disease, and help you stay slim doesn’t excite you, maybe that fact that scientific studies point to over 40 distinct health benefits will.

For instance, when diabetic patients were given a high flavenol cocoa drink for one month, it brought their blood vessel function from severely impaired to normal, similar to what exercise would have done!

Dark chocolate affects cardiovascular health in several ways. It has a biochemical effect that reduces clumping of platelets, which can lead to blood clots. Another way it may provide heart benefits is by assisting with nitric oxide metabolism. Nitric oxide protects that heart by relaxing your blood vessels and lowering blood pressure.

Nitric oxide metabolism has adverse reactions and toxic byproducts, too. These byproducts can result in oxidative damage. Cacao polyphenols protect your body from these unwanted affects, too.

A new study has found that your gut bacteria break down and ferment components of dark chocolate, turning them into anti-inflammatory compounds that benefit your health. These researchers say that consuming dark chocolate with antioxidant rich solid fruits like pomegranate or acai is another way to boost its health potential.

The five reasons Dr. Mercola gives to eat more dark chocolate are these:

1.          Reduces the risk of stroke.

2.         Promotes heart health.

3.         Lessens your risk of chronic degenerative diseases like diabetes.

4.         Sharpens your brain and keeps you smart.

5.         Boosts mood and helps with stress relief.

Unfortunately, eating milk chocolate or white chocolate provides none of these benefits. They are loaded with sugars and chemicals you do not need. Do not eat these, they are not healthy.

You may be wondering how much dark chocolate to eat. Good question. They have found that eating small amounts, as in one or two bites or squares, several times a day, is the best way to benefit from chocolate. Just make sure it is high quality, high percentage cacao in your candy bar.

Make dark chocolate your gift of choice at any time of the year. Help someone’s health instead of hindering it.