From Halloween through Valentine's Day, chocolate helps celebrate the season. While overindulging leads to calorie concerns, the right amounts of the right kinds of chocolate can actually make one feel and even look better. Registered dietitians Shara Aaron and Monica Bearden, authors of CHOCOLATEA HEALTHY PASSION (Prometheus Books, $19.98), can explain chocolate's role in health and wellness, as well as its history, culture, sensory pleasures and more.
Science has proved what ancient civilizations believed so long ago: chocolate has healing powers. Research shows that eating chocolate and natural cocoa may improve vascular health, blood pressure, cognitive health, blood flow, and skin health.
According to studies by the USDA, just two tablespoons of natural cocoa have more antioxidant power than 4 cups of green tea, one cup of blueberries or one and a half glasses of red wine.
Flavanols, the compounds in chocolate found in the cocoa bean, increase blood flow. A recent study found that 6.7 grams of dark chocolate per day is all that is needed for a protective effect against inflammation and subsequent cardiovascular disease*1. Another study showed that including only thirty calories worth of flavanol-rich dark chocolate per day in a usual diet significantly reduced blood pressure*2.
Flavanols also help the blood flow to your skin, making your skin look more hydrated. Cocoa mayat least temporarilyreverse smoking-related impairments of blood vessel function. There are also cognitive benefits to increased circulation.
Think chocolate is bad for your teeth? Think againit may actually be beneficial. A study out of the University of Osaka Graduate School of Dentistry in Osaka, Japan found that after four days of rinsing with a cocoa flavanol extract without other oral hygiene methods (such as brushing or flossing) participants had decreased bacteria and plaque on their teeth*3.
|Contact: Jill Maxick|