The Benefits of ChocolateA 2011 Swedish study found that women who ate more than 45 grams of chocolate a week had a 20 percent lower risk of stroke than women who treated themselves to fewer than 9 grams.

Regular chocolate eaters welcome a host of benefits for their hearts, including lower blood pressure, lower “bad” LDL cholesterol and a lower risk of heart disease.

Dark chocolate is especially heart-healthy because of its inflammation-fighting properties that reduce cardiovascular risk.

Because it is rich in fiber, dark chocolate can actually help keep you full, so you’ll eat less, Dr. David Katz, founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center stated. Regular chocolate eaters might do themselves a favor by treating themselves to a bite instead of snacking on “11 other things first” he said.

Dark chocolate does the trick much better than milk, according to a small study from the University of Copenhagen, and may even reduce cravings for sweet, salty and fatty foods.

A small Italian study from 2005 found that regularly eating chocolate increases insulin sensitivity, thereby reducing risk for diabetes.

Dark chocolate is actually good for your skin. The type of antioxidants called flavonoids found in dark chocolate offer some protection from UV damage from the sun.
An ingredient in chocolate called theobromine seems to reduce activity of the vagus nerve, the part of the brain that triggers hard-to-shake coughs.

In late 2010, the BBC reported that scientists were investigating creating a drug containing theobromine to replace cough syrups containing codeine, which can have risky side effects.

Chocolate eaters also report feeling less stressed.

Cocoa has anti-clotting, blood-thinning properties that work in a similar way to aspirin, Dr. Fitzgerald writes, which can improve blood flow and circulation.

Because of chocolate’s ability to improve blood flow, in particular to the brain, researchers at the University of Reading hypothesized in a small 2011 study that chocolate may also increase blood flow to the retina, thereby giving vision a boost.

That boost of blood flow to the brain created by cocoa’s flavanols seems to make people feel more awake and alert, and, in a small British study, perform better on counting tasks. The chocolate should be at least 70% cocoa or more. You can order cocao beans on the internet and grind the chocolate beans like you would coffee beans, or break them into nibs to use in cooking. It’s a real treat!

Raw Cacao?        According to the antioxidant content of raw cacao benefits the cardiovascular system and whole body health.

         In processed dark chocolate, antioxidants can be present, but are in much lower levels than in unheated raw chocolate nibs as an example. Out of al whole foods that contain antioxidants, raw chocolate is the highest in the world.

        The nutrient density of raw cacao benefits every function of the body. It is the highest source of magnesium and chromium of any food! Magnesium is the most deficient mineral in the average human. All the compounds found in raw cacao benefit longevity in humans. Nutrients found in raw chocolate have been linked to a number of health benefits:

        1) Lower blood pressure & improve circulation – Flavanols, theobromine, and other components found in cacao may lower blood pressure and enhance circulation by promoting dilation, strength, and health of blood vessels.

        2) Promote cardiovascular function & health – Antioxidant flavonoids and essential minerals and vitamins found in cacao support healthy heart functioning by lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow, lowering LDL cholesterol, and reducing plaque buildup on artery walls.

        3) Neutralize free radicals – High levels of antioxidants protect the body from a buildup of free radicals from sun exposure, pollution, cigarette smoking, etc., which may damage healthy body tissue giving rise to cancer and cardiovascular disease.

        4) Improve digestion – A sufficient amount of fiber with each serving of cacao supports digestion as cacao stimulates the body’s production of digestive enzymes.

        5) Enhance physical and mental wellbeing – There are many components of cacao including alkaloids, proteins, beta-carotene, leucine, linoleic, lipase, lysine, and theobromine, that all work together to improve physical and mental health. Theombromine stimulates the central nervous system, relaxes smooth muscles, and dilates blood vessels, giving the body a boost of energy; “bliss” chemicals found in cacao help to increase circulation and availability of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in brain, improving mood and combating depression.