Dark chocolate health benefits are abundantly more than the average food. You might even say that dark chocolate is a super food. With raw, unprocessed Cocoa being the most antioxidant rich food on the planet. There is one thing to consider though, over 50% of that medicinal value is destroyed during processing. There is a manufacturer that is doing something different. The makers of Xocai Healthy Chocolate use a patented cold-press method. This process produces a high antioxidant healthy chocolate that has a medicinal value intact and not cooked out of it. A 12g piece of Xocai chocolate, for example has as much and maybe more antioxidants as 12 lbs. of Tomatoes, or more than 1.5 lbs of Spinach, or 2 lbs. of Raspberries.
It is recommended by the USDA for minimum intake of and antioxidants be 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC daily. When exposed to excessive toxins, or engaging in frequent exercise one needs even more.
Over and over again research is showing us that there is a direct correlation between our health and antioxidant intake.
Cocoa is high in the polyphenols, mostly these are flavonoids-flavan-3-ols, flavonols (epicatechin and catechin), and procyanidins. Cocoa comes from a plant called Theobromo cacoa. Fifty percent of the weight of the cocoa bean is cocoa butter, while the main fatty acids being stearic and palmitic (saturated fats), oleic (a monounsaturated fatty acid also in olive oil) and linoleic acid (polyunsaturated). Stearic acid fat does not elevate blood cholesterol like many other saturated fatty acids. In the cocoa bean both insoluble fiber and soluble fiber are found, which helps lower cholesterol levels. Fiber is extremely important in the lowering of colon cancer rates, preventing constipation, as well as improving sugar metabolism. Several useful minerals and vitamins are also found in the cocoa bean. One of these useful nutrients found in dark chocolate is magnesium, which is important for muscle relaxation, energy production, nerve conduction, as well as teeth and bone health and development. PMS (premenstrual syndrome) can be associated with magnesium deficiencies. Dark cocoa is a rich source of copper, which is involved in several of the chemical processes in the body. Dark cocoa is also has a high level of potassium, which is vital for cardiovascular health.
On a per-weight basis chocolate has the highest concentration of the flavonoids–flavan-3-ols, flavonols (epicatechin and catechin), and procyanidins of any food. Loaded with a variety of phytonutrients, makes chocolate very high in antioxidants. To measure the rates of antioxidants in foods, the scientific test called ORAC is used. ORAC stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity. One of the highest on the ORAC scale is chocolate. Higher than green tea and red wine, dark chocolate has more effective antioxidants.
Cocoa helps reduce cardiovascular damage, by increasing the production of good cholesterol (HDL), which works to clean and mop up blood vessels from the harmful fats. Cocoa flavonoids decrease platelets from forming harmful clots that damage the heart muscle blood vessels. Helping the blood vessels dilate easier, flavonoids allow more blood flow to the heart (nitric oxide (NO) activation). This same is true for insulin-stimulated blood sugar uptake producing improved diabetic control. Cocoa also has anti-inflammatory properties, which stops the inflammatory process (cytokines) from damaging the body.
Dark chocolate has been shown to decrease blood pressure in many studies, which of course decreases the damage to heart vessels. Also cocoa is a rennin-angiotension enzyme inhibitor, which works the same as many blood pressure pills work on (ACE inhibitors).
Dark cocoa helps reduce dental cavities, prevent gum disease, and decrease the plaque on teeth according to other research.
Antioxidant principles can be applied to decreasing the progression of dementia. Vitamins like vitamin E and some B-vitamins have been used to also help with dementia. As mentioned before, cocoa has this same ability to decrease the free-radical damage, which in turn helps with improving memory and limiting dementia.
The body’s ability to use insulin is improved by dark chocolate while stopping the resistance problem which can lead to diabetes. Cocoa helps increase nitric oxide levels which helps with insulin-stimulated uptake of blood sugars. This also improves the health of the blood vessels, decreasing the damage of diabetes on the small vessels.
Liver damage has been reduced with Cocoa while it can repair liver cells even after long-term alcohol exposure to.
Antioxidant properties of cocoa can also impact Cancer. By stopping oxidation of cells, antioxidants can hinder the development of cancer cells.
Some other things we find in chocolate are theobromine, a very small amount of caffeine, phenylethylamine (PEA-the “love-chemical”), and anandamide which increases mental awareness. Research tells of the antidepressant effects of chocolate showing that both serotonin and dopamine levels are increased. Chocolate also helps curb our appetite for fats and helps decrease our fat intake. Cocoa by itself can also decrease appetites. The carbohydrates in chocolate increase energy. The central nervous system is stimulated by the theobromine giving us additional energy. Theobromine, cousin to theophylline, helps open up lungs to improve breathing as it is also used in cough medicine. Low libidos in women could be improved with chocolate, studies have shown.