Chocolate comes from the seeds of the fruit of the cacao tree. Ounce for ounce cocoa contains more antioxidants than do foods like blueberries, green tea, vegetables, and red wine. Dark chocolate contain more than seven times the number of antioxidants as strawberries. Many scientists believe that plants produce antioxidants to help them survive harsh environmental conditions that they face.
Cocoa flavanoids are comprised of a diverse class of natural compounds of a unique blend of phylonutrients that can only be found in the cocoa bean.
The Fat in Chocolate
There are three different types of fats found in chocolate.
Palmitic acid is a saturated fat that increases cholesterol and heart disease risk.
Stearic acid is a saturated fat which has been shown to have a neutral effect on cholesterol and heart disease risk.
Oleic acid is a healthy monosaturated that is also found in olive oil.
Health Benefits of Chocolate
Flavanoids can help lower blood pressure through the production of nitric oxide.
Dark chocolate has been shown to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) by approximately 10 percent.
Dark chocolate may help with brain function by increasing blood flow to the brain.
Dark chocolate may help reduce the risk of cancer and other diseases related to oxidative breakdown.
Other Qualities of Chocolate
It stimulates endorphin in the brain which gives a feeling of pleasure.
It contains serotonin which acts as an anti-depressant.
It contains caffeine, theobromine, and other stimulates.
Chocolate and Macular Degeneration
The flavanoids and antioxidants in chocolate neutralize free radicals which cause damage to the cells in our bodies. The macula in our retina is characterized by high levels of oxidation and therefore chocolate should have a benefit in protecting the macula from degeneration.
Chocolate Improves Vision
A study at the University of Reading in England showed that the ingestion of dark chocolate improved the vision in a group of young people two and one half hours after eating the chocolate. The measurement of vision used was contrast sensitivity. This measures the ability of the eye to distinguish between a grey object next to slightly different shade of grey.
Summary of Chocolate
Chocolate is a powerful anti-oxidant. The chocolate should be 70% cocoa and you should not drink mild with eating the chocolate. Most studies used about 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate which is about 200 calories. Chocolate contains over 300 compounds and chemicals. Further studies should provide more information about its benfits.