Why Eating Chocolate Is Good for You
In my professional opinion, Americans should eat more chocolate. Of course, I’m going to clarify that comment here shortly, but, on the whole, chocolate is a great food to add to your diet.
Allow me to explain why.
The Ins And Outs of Eating Lots of Chocolate
If you’re new to my email list, I need to make this clarification up front.
While I say “YES” to chocolate, you should also know that I’m firmly against sugar and for the most part, and all forms of dairy (see my article on dairy here).
That’s the one caveat I offer about chocolate. And it’s something you need to keep in mind as you read over this article. Chocolate with sugar is a no-no. And chocolate with dairy is something you should avoid.
Me giving you the go ahead to eat chocolate does not mean I’m saying it’s OK to eat Hershey’s bars for days. In fact, I strongly recommend you stay away from all chocolate candies FOREVER.
When I advise the consumption of chocolate, I’m speaking of dark chocolate. Really dark chocolate.
The reason I recommend dark chocolate is because it’s extremely high in many health boosting compounds.
You see, dark chocolate contains:
- Pyrroloquinoline quinone (PQQ)
And much more.
While you might not know what all of these do for your health, have no fear, I’m about to put chocolate’s health boosting benefits out in the clear.
Bioflavanoids: The simplest way to explain bioflavonoids is by telling you what they represent. A bioflavonoid is a type of chemical compound that appears in plant material. When it comes to food, bioflavonoids represent certain “healthy characteristics” of a food. Bioflavonoids determine the color of a food and tell you what healthy qualities that food has.
For instance, turmeric has flavonoids that give it that dark orangey gold color. That color represents turmeric’s numerous health qualities that help it fight inflammation and work to boost certain functions in the body.
Carrots are orange too, but because of beta-carotene. Their color represents that chemical structure and what they can do for your body (beta carotene helps with eye-health).
When it comes to chocolate, its dark brown color represents the many chemicals inside of it that can lead to great health. These include the presence of antioxidants along with other chemicals which I’ll describe in a moment.
Chocolate is Rich in Antioxidants
Bioflavonoids present in chocolate indicate its rich antioxidant power.
Antioxidants, as you might already know, are chemical compounds that work against free radicals. And free-radicals are “atoms, ions and molecules with unpaired electrons” which will damage your tissues and DNA to the point where you might develop diseases and conditions that are hazardous to your health.
And, according to a study done in Penn State, the benefits that adding chocolate into your diet can have on your health is quite stunning (in terms of antioxidant power).
A Penn State-led study has found that a diet high in flavonoid-rich cocoa powder and dark chocolate had favorable effects on LDL (“bad” cholesterol) when compared with a diet that limited or excluded other flavonoid sources such as tea, coffee, wine, onions, apples, beans, soybeans, and orange and grape juices.
Another one of the health boosting compounds found in chocolate is PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinone).
PQQ was only recently discovered, is an essential nutrient and an antioxidant.
Some scientists see it as one of the most exciting compounds for healthy living.
Preliminary studies show that PQQ can help protect your mitochondria (your cell’s “energy furnace”) from oxidative damage, as well as stimulating the growth of fresh mitochondria.
By extension, chocolate could help you naturally restore energy levels!
Another antioxidant found in chocolate is resveratrol.
Resveratrol is the same compound found in grape skins and red wine that has helped the French stay skinny even though they eat bread and butter all day long.
- Protect your cells from free radical damage
- Can help inhibit the spread of cancer, especially prostate cancer
- Can aid in lowering your blood pressure
- Can help improve elasticity in your blood vessels, thus keeping your heart healthy
- Can help combat inflammation in the body
It too is one of the more remarkable compounds used for great health and is found in ample amounts in dark chocolate.
Lastly I’d like to talk about Anandamide.
Anandamide is a chemical compound that actually makes eating chocolate help you feel good. It’s not an antioxidant, but it does help the brain in minute, but noticeable ways.
You see, this compound has a chemical structure similar to marijuana, so it produces a similar, but much less powerful affect.
Essentially, it can help provide a sense of calm, which makes it great for anyone who has mild to moderate anxiety or depression.
As Daniele Piomelli of the University of California, Irvine explains,
We are talking about something much, much, much, much milder than a high…[As] Anandamide is also synthesized in areas of the brain that are important in memory and higher thought processes and in areas that control movement. That implies that anandamide’s function is not just to produce bliss.
What he means is, while anandamide might make you feel good, it also helps to make your brain operate on a “higher level” so to speak.
Chocolate makes you smarter?
While I wouldn’t go that far, it’s definitely a smart decision to eat chocolate.
And, as you might have noticed, I talked about chocolate containing healthy fats.
When you’re eating dark chocolate, you’re eating mostly fat.
And that’s completely fine.
Read my article on high fat diets here so you can relax a little while indulging in dark chocolate.
General Guidelines For Eating Chocolate
The darker the better.
The less sugar, the better (and preferably dairy free).
For darkness, I wouldn’t go below 80%. Truthfully, if you can tolerate 88%, 95%, even 99%, I’d go for it.
Baking with chocolate and using stevia is a good way to get the right amount of chocolate while not overdoing it in terms of sugar consumption.
And, when you’re reading the serving size, if it’s over 8 grams of sugar per serving skip it.
That’s nothing more than candy, and I certainly don’t recommend that.
So, go ahead, enjoy this holiday season…just don’t dip your hand in an M&M bowl and think you’re doing yourself any favors.