7 Reasons Eating Dark Chocolate Supports Healthy Living

Dark chocolate
Source: NaturalNews.com
Amy Goodrich
July 20, 2016

Chocolate has been a long-time favorite of children and adults alike to satisfy a sweet tooth or cure a broken heart.

In the early day’s chocolate was seen as a mood-enhancing aphrodisiac and symbol of luxury and power only available to the wealthiest of people. Once touted as the “food of Gods” for its myriad of health benefits, this popular comfort food received some bad press due to its high fat content.

Despite the wealth of positive coverage, chocolate has long been suspected of worsening acne and increasing the risk for a host of lifestyle illnesses such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and cancer.

However, not all chocolate is created equally. The sugar and milk infused chocolate most Americans consume today will not be of much help when it comes to improving your health and happiness.

Dark chocolate, with at least 70 percent cocoa, on the other hand, has been scientifically proven to keep your brain sharp, your heart in perfect condition, and your skin shielded from UV-induced damage.

Here are seven science-backed reasons why you should indulge in this bitter and sweet treat more often.

1. Packed with beneficial nutrients

Dark chocolate with a high cocoa percentage is a good source of healthy fats, fiber, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, zinc, among many other beneficial plant nutrients. Though, moderation is key as all these nutrients come with a lot of calories and moderate amounts of sugar too.

2. Antioxidant powerhouse

Cocoa houses an impressive amount of powerful antioxidants such as polyphenols, flavanols, and catechins. In the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) chart, raw cocoa is at the top of the antioxidant list, among other superfoods such as blueberries, goji berries, and pomegranate seeds.

The ORAC scale was developed to measure the effectiveness of antioxidants to neutralize free radicals that may cause damage to DNA, cells, and tissues.

3. Reduce blood pressure naturally

A 2012 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that moderate consumption of dark chocolate or raw cocoa powder reduced blood pressure and improved insulin levels and blood flow.

4. Improve cholesterol levels

If you are struggling with elevated cholesterol levels, dark chocolate may become your new best friend. Regular consumption has shown to significantly decrease oxidized LDL (bad) cholesterol while improving HDL (good) cholesterol.

5 May Lower cardiovascular disease risk

High blood pressure, elevated LDL cholesterol, and insulin levels have been linked to cardiovascular diseases. As mentioned above, dark chocolate has a positive effect on all three, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases or death.

One study found that people who ate chocolate five times or more a week had a 57 percent lower risk of developing cardiovascular issues. However, this number is to be taken with a grain of salt as it is based on observational studies and other factors may be at play.

6. Chocolate as a natural sunscreen

Flavanols in dark chocolate may protect against UV-induced damage, improve blood flow to the skin, and increase skin density and hydration.

7. Boost brain health

Lastly, dark chocolate may also boost brain power. It improves blood flow to the brain and has shown to improve memory in elderly people with mental impairment. Cocoa contains caffeine-like substances known to boost short-term brain function.

While the evidence that raw cocoa or dark chocolate can significantly improve your health is definitely out there, remember, that doesn’t give you carte blanche to load up on this sweet, bitter treat.

Keep consumption down to a square or two a day and make sure to buy high-quality and organic dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa. The more cocoa, the better as that is where all the amazing benefits are coming from.

Read More At: NaturalNews.com

Top 20 Addictive Foods: Are You Hooked?

Source: GreenMedInfo.com
Margie King, Health Coach

Let food be thy medicine.  Just don’t let it be thy drug. 

Can’t resist a slice – or two or three – of pizza?  You may well be addicted.

Researchers from the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan and the New York Obesity Research Center at the Mount Sinai – St. Luke’s Hospital in New York wanted to know what foods felt addictive to real people.[i]

They posited that highly processed foods may trigger an addictive response in some people that leads to unintended overeating.  And they observed that these foods share common traits with highly addictive drugs.

Like other drug problems, they say, “food addiction” is characterized by:

  1. Loss of control over consumption;
  2. Continued use despite negative consequences; and
  3. Inability to cut down despite the desire to do so.

And neuro-imaging studies show similar brain patterns in “food addicts” and drug addicts.  In particular both show increased activation of the reward regions of the brain in response to food cues – just like other addictions.

Although you may have your own suspicions, human studies haven’t confirmed which foods are most likely to trigger an addiction.  Animal studies suggest that highly processed foods like Oreo Double Stuf cookies, cheesecake, and icing set off binges.

To get a better handle on what foods are most likely to get the better of people, the researchers asked about 500 people to complete a Yale Food Addiction Scale (YFAS) survey to determine which of 35 foods were most associated with problem eating behaviors.  Problem behaviors included trouble cutting down on the food, or losing control over how much of the food was eaten, or feeling that you aren’t eating enough of the food.

The foods in the survey fit into four categories:

  1. Chocolate/French Fries: high in both fat and refined carbohydrates/sugar
  2. Cheese/Bacon: high in fat but not refined carbohydrates/sugar
  3. Pretzels/Soda: high in refined carbohydrates/sugar but not fat
  4. Broccoli/Chicken: low in both fat and refined carbohydrates/sugar

In general, the researchers found that processed foods high in fat and having a high glycemic load, were most frequently associated with addictive eating behaviors. The glycemic load measures how quickly a standard serving of a particular food will spike your blood sugar.

There was an interesting exception. The researchers found that men had more of a problem with some unprocessed foods (e.g., steak, nuts, cheese) than women did.

Here’s the list:

  1. Pizza
  2. Chocolate
  3. Chips
  4. Cookies
  5. Ice Cream
  6. French Fries
  7. Cheeseburger
  8. Soda
  9. Cake
  10. Cheese
  11. Bacon
  12. Fried Chicken
  13. Rolls (plain)
  14. Popcorn (buttered)
  15. Breakfast Cereal
  16. Gummy Candy
  17. Steak
  18. Muffins
  19. Nuts
  20. Eggs

Although some of the foods on the list are unprocessed, the researchers observed that processing tends to result in a higher concentration of addictive substances in a food with the addition of fat, carbs, and sugar. In other words, the dose of fat and sugar you get in cake or pizza is much higher than you would find in nature. And, they note, the combination of fat and sugar in a single food rarely occurs in nature.

Continue Reading At: GreenMedInfo.com