There are numerous health benefits that come from eating chocolate. Chocolate not only taste good, but it may be good for you. Chocolate is derived from the cacao plant and contains lots of antioxidant flavonoids. The same flavonoids are found in grapes, green tea, and different types of fruits and vegetables. Flavanoids are plant metabolites that may lower cholestorol and blood pressure. Flavanoids also contain healthy antioxidants that fight free radical damage caused by environmental factors.
The Above Picture are Cacao Seeds from the Cacao Tree where chocolate comes from.
The BMJ Journal took a look at 21,000 people in England and found that those who ate100 grams of chocolate a day had a lower risk of having cardiovascular disease in the future than those who did not eat chocolate. The equivalent of 100 grams of chocolate is 2.5 bars of Hershey's Chocolate. The chocolate eating group was 11 percent less likely to have a stroke or heart attack than those who did not eat any chocolate. Those who ate the chocolate also had a lower systolic blood pressure and body mass index and were 25 percent less likely to have cardiovascular disease than those who did not eat chocolate. This study showed a correlation between chocolate intake and cardiovascular disease, but it did not prove that chocolate was the sole factor in the lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Chocolate lovers seem to be more active and younger.
To get the heart-healthy benefits, choose healthy chocolate and eat a small portion daily. Some chocolates can benefit the blood vessels, lower blood pressure, improve blood flow, improve HDL (the good cholesterol), and increase antioxidants in your blood. It is still crucial that the amount of chocolate consumed is carefully regulated, because eating too much chocolate can be too much of a good thing because it can add pounds to your weight.
The volume of antioxidant flavonoids varies from one type of chocolate to another. To gain the most health benefits, choose a chocolate that has more nonfat cocoa solids because these chocolates contain more antioxidants. For example, dark chocolate is a good choice, while white chocolate does not contain any flavanol phytochemicals. The highest levels of flavonoids are found in natural cocoa powder. The second highest is baking chocolate that is unsweetened. The third highest ranking goes to semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate. Milk chocolate is down at the bottom of the list as one of the chocolates with the least flavonoids.
So the next time you are in the grocery store add some healthy chocolate to your cart. Chocolate goes great when eaten alone, in making hot chocolate, and as an ingredient in your favorite desserts. Here is a recipe for Homemade Chocolate Cupcakes that is sure to please your taste buds and may help improve your health.
The prep time is 10-15 minutes. The cook time is 20-25 minutes.
2 cups of all-purpose flour
3/4 cups of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
1 cup of strong, cold, brewed coffee
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts
1 package of your favorite icing
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a big bowl. Form a well in the center and pour in the coffee, oil, and eggs. Spoon batter into baking cups that are lined with a light oil.
Bake 20-25 minutes until the cupcakes spring back when lightly touched. Let the cupcakes sit and cool and then put your favorite icing on top of the cupcakes.