The following is input from a visitor to our healthy eating website.  We appreciate hearing from our readers with questions, comments or guest blogs since the compendium of healthy eating information is large and complicated and is growing and changing all the time.  

Please feel free to add your feedback in the comments section if you have information or questions that will help further our pursuit of a healthy eating lifestyle! 

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The Hidden Benefits of Dark Chocolate

by Guest Blogger: Mark
(London, ON, Canada)




THE HIDDEN BENEFITS OF DARK CHOCOLATE

You may be surprised to hear that dark chocolate contains more antioxidants than blueberries.

Antioxidants

A hidden benefit of dark chocolate is that is loaded with organic compounds. These compounds are biologically active, and function as antioxidants. Several of these include: polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins.

Dark chocolate has a wide variety of powerful antioxidants--way more than most other foods.

Improves Brain Function

Dark chocolate may also significantly improve cognitive function. This hidden benefit may have a positive effect on verbal fluency, and several risk factors for disease.

Dark chocolate also contains stimulant substances like caffeine and theobromine. Studies suggest that these substances may improve brain function, in the short term.

Cardiovascular Health

Another hidden benefit of dark chocolate, is its contribution to a healthy heart.

Evidence suggests that eating dark chocolate several times a week, may lower the risk of having calcified plaque in the arteries by 32%. Additional research indicates that dark chocolate consumed 5+ times per week, could lower the risk of cardiovascular disease by 57%.

The frequent consumption of small quantities of dark chocolate is linked to lower BMI.

Blood Flow and Blood Pressure

Dark chocolate has been linked to increased blood flow, and a reduction in blood pressure

The flavanols in dark chocolate can stimulate the endothelium. This stimulates the lining of arteries, to produce nitric oxide. An advantage of nitric oxide is that it sends signals to relax arteries, lowering resistance to blood flow, and therefore reducing blood pressure.

Protective Qualities of Dark Chocolate

The antioxidants found in dark chocolate make their way it into the bloodstream, protecting lipoproteins against oxidative damage. Dark chocolate may also reduce insulin resistance, which is another common risk factor for many diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Skin Protection:

A little known benefit of flavonols (found in dark chocolate) is that it can protect against sun-induced skin damage, improve blood flow to the skin, and increase skin density.
Studies reveal that the flavanols from dark chocolate, are especially helpful in controlling blood flow, and providing skin protection.

Some scientific studies suggest that dark chocolate may help keep your brain sharp, your heart healthy, and your skin less damaged from the sun’s harmful rays.

What is your favourite dark chocolate dessert? Please share.

Comments for The Hidden Benefits of Dark Chocolate

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Citations for studies
by: Suzy

Thanks, Mark for an interesting Guest Blog post. It would be helpful to our visitors if you could site the studies which show the advantages of including dark chocolate in your diet.

We also need to be aware of what qualifies as "dark" chocolate based on the cacao content and what chocolate intensity was used in these studies. There is a lot of leeway in what is labeled "dark" chocolate by food companies.

My guess is that they used very dark chocolate in the 70% or above range. Feel free to post a comment with more information if you have it!

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