by: Dr. Craig A. Maxwell
Is chocolate one of your guilty holiday pleasures? Do you worry that sweet treat will cause you to pack on the pounds? Worry no more. Studies have shown that regular chocolate consumption can actually help you lose weight! Eating chocolate can also reduce your risk of heart attack and may even help diabetes. Read on!
Can You Really Lose Weight with Chocolate?
Clinical studies have revealed that regular dark chocolate consumption can lower body mass index and get rid of stubborn abdominal fat. The secret to weight loss by chocolate is in its catechins, the powerful antioxidants that fight inflammation, boost metabolism, reduce cortisol (a common cause of excess abdominal fat) and give you the extra energy you need to power through your exercise routine. Furthermore, dark chocolate provides a filling effect that can reduce your cravings for fatty, sweet, and salty foods.
Dark chocolate is also rich in magnesium, which helps promote a deep, restful sleep. Studies have shown that sleep-deprived individuals retain more abdominal fat due to higher cortisol levels. Chronic sleep deprivation can also interfere with metabolism and hormone levels, which make losing weight more of a challenge.
More Health Benefits of Chocolate
- Boosts Your Immune System
Poor diet, stress, and environmental toxins have contributed to an epidemic of lowered immunity. This is why it’s important to get all the immune-protecting antioxidants you can from your diet. The cocoa in dark chocolate contains more polyphenols and flavonoids than even the highest-rated fruits, including Acai berries and blueberries.
- Lowers Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Dark chocolate has been shown to reduce arterial inflammation and improve blood circulation, which can, in turn, lower blood pressure and help maintain it at a healthier level. Furthermore, cocoa lowers oxidized LDL (“bad” cholesterol) and protects your lipoproteins against oxidative damage.
- Lowers Your Risk for Heart Disease
With its ability to treat chronic inflammation, improve circulation, and reduce blood pressure, dark chocolate can help lower your risk for heart disease. One study indicated that small amounts of dark chocolate eaten 5 times week helped reduce the risk of heart disease by up to 57%.
- Protects Your Skin From Damage
The high antioxidant content in dark chocolate helps protect against sun-induced sun damage while also improving your circulation and increasing your skin density and hydration. One study showed that regular chocolate consumption doubled the reduction of sun-induced damage in just 12 weeks.
- May Help Control Diabetes
If you’re living with type II diabetes, most sweets are off-limits. Not so with dark chocolate. The flavonoids in dark chocolate reduce insulin resistance by increasing nitric oxide production. This helps decrease incidents of dangerous blood sugar spikes and can help keep your levels under control.
- Improved Mood and Well-Being
Dark chocolate is a rich source of magnesium, an essential mineral many are deficient in. Magnesium is responsible for over 300 enzymatic reactions in the body. Without adequate levels, chronic anxiety, restlessness, mood swings, and insomnia may occur. In addition to soothing magnesium, dark chocolate is also rich in phenylethylamine, a compound that encourages the release of endorphins in your brain.
- Eases Chronic Cough
Chronic cough is a problem for those who suffer from allergies. Dark chocolate contains a compound called theobromine that acts as a mild cough suppressant. Coupled with the anti-inflammatory antioxidants, chocolate is the ideal sweet treat for allergy sufferers.
- May Help Prevent Cancer
Dark chocolate has 5 times more flavonoids than an apple, making it one of the most potent sources of healing antioxidants available in the world. Because of this, chocolate has been shown to help prevent the development of cancer. Pentameric procyanidin (pentamer) is a natural compound found in cocoa, which deactivates the proteins that cause cancer cells to continually divide.
The Best Chocolate for Your Health
Now that you know how good dark chocolate is for your health, you may be tempted to grab a few of your favorite candy bars at the checkout line. Not so fast. There are many types of chocolate out there that can cause more health problems than they prevent.
Avoid the commercial types of chocolate bars found in the candy aisle or at the checkout line. These candies are often loaded with artificial sweeteners, corn syrup, synthetic additives, and genetically modified soy. Instead, invest in dark, organic, soy-free chocolate with at least 70% cacao content. These bars can be found in health food stores or in the health food section of your favorite supermarket.
Dark chocolate, when consumed in moderation, can be very beneficial to your health. Combat both stress and weight gain with this delicious treat and you’ll enjoy better health through the holidays and beyond.
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