A Chocolate A Day . . .


It's rich. It's decadent. It makes us happy.

It's chocolate.

Doesn't the thought of chocolate instantly make you feel better? It's my favorite stress food - I had a major financial stress breakdown moment this weekend, and a little chocolate did the trick. But stress relief isn't the only good thing about chocolate.

I was reminded again of the many benefits of chocolate this past weekend. Let's list them, shall we?

1. Chocolate causes the release of endorphins in your brain. Endorphins make you happy, decrease feelings of pain, and enhance your immune response, among other things (Resource 1).

2. Dark Chocolate can help lower your blood pressure, and it also contains lots of antioxidants (Resource 2). Antioxidants help fight "free radical" molecules and help maintain healthy cells and tissues. Recent research from the University of Scranton shows that chocolate contains more antioxidants than "tea, red wine, apples, oranges, and various vegetables" (Resource 3). The most antioxidants are found in cocoa powder, then dark chocolate, then milk chocolate.

3. Chocolate contains potassium, magnesium, B vitamins, and vitamins D and E (Resource 4). Since all these nutrients are found in chocolate, chocolate bars (particularly with dark chocolate) are not really just empty calories as some may think.

4. I think we all know how chocolate lowers stress. All you need to do is eat a bit of chocolate during a stressful day, and you immediately feel better, no? A recent study showed that eating some chocolate everyday did lower stress hormones in the participants - the same study also showed possible benefits for metabolism and microbial activity in the digestive system (Resource 5).

5. It's quickly coming apparent in recent years that chocolate in moderation (yes, you can't eat all the chocolate in the world and avoid gaining weight, unfortunately), mostly dark chocolate, can have many positive effects on a person's health. One study showed that a 1.6 ounce bar of dark chocolate is good for your body's blood flow and heart (Resource 6).

6. And finally, the possible benefit that I most recently read about. I read in American Baby magazine that if you have a little bit of chocolate every day, your baby will be happier at 6 months old than if you don't. I believe they got the information from a book entitled "Origins: How The Nine Months Before Birth Shape The Rest Of Our Lives", by Annie Murphy (Resource 7). Who doesn't want a happy baby, I ask you? I'm willing to give it a try!

I want to note right now that the health benefits of chocolate that I listed above are mainly associated with dark chocolate. The higher in cocoa concentration, the better. Milk chocolate doesn't have the same effects. In fact one study suggested that even milk eaten together with dark chocolate "may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate" (Resource 2). So eat your chocolate dark if you want to be healthy. That works for me, because personally, I like dark chocolate best!

I also want to note that if you eat too much chocolate without compensating for the calories in other areas, many of the possible health benefits are for naught. Gaining weight from too much chocolate isn't healthy. You have to compensate for the extra chocolate calories and everything will be golden, okay?

That said, anybody have any reservations left about having a little square of rich, decadent dark chocolate per day?

I didn't think so. Me neither.

Many happy, chocolate moments to you!




Resources:

1. Stoppler, Melissa Conrad, MD. Endorphins Natural Pain and Stress Fighters, 2007. Link: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=55001.

2. Denoon, Daniel J. Dark Chocolate is Healthy Chocolate, 2003. Link: http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20030827/dark-chocolate-is-healthy-chocolate.

3. Information from Hersheys.com. Study listed as reference for this information:

Vinson JA, Proch J, Zubik L. Phenol antioxidant quantity and quality in foods: cocoa, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate. J Ag Food Chem 1999; 47: 4821-4824.

Link to article: http://www.hersheys.com/nutrition/polyphenols.asp.


4. Parkinson, Rhonda. Health Benefits of Chocolate. Link: http://chinesefood.about.com/od/westernhol/a/chocolate.htm.

5. Warner, Jennifer. Dark Chocolate Takes Bite Out of Stress, 2009. Link: http://www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/news/20091113/dark-chocolate-takes-bite-out-of-stress.

6. Denoon, Daniel J. A Dark Chocolate A Day Keeps The Doctor Away. Link: http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20040601/dark-chocolate-day-keeps-doctor-away.

7. Murphy Paul, Anne. Origins: How The Nine Months Before Birth Shape The Rest Of Our Lives. Not Yet Released. Link: http://www.amazon.com/Origins-Months-Before-Birth-Shape/dp/0743296621.

8. Image from Hersheys.com.
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Rebecca Louise. said...

I am a massive chocolate fan (although don't like white chocolate so much). I don't have it everyday but it sure does make me happy!

Melanie said...

I love my chocolate dark too! Great to know there are so many benefits to eating some..one thing we dont have to feel guilty about eating..right?!

Lauren said...

Love the chocolate justification on a Monday morning! My mom has been buying these Dove sugar free chocolates which are amazing!

Amber Hansen said...

Hmm...I think that gives me enough reasons to snag some when I go to the grocery store tonight!

ashley said...

Alright! Sounds like some good reasons to get some chocolate out - Mmm. It's just too bad that Milk Chocolate doesn't have all the same benefits as Dark, because Milk is my favorite!

Kara @ KSS said...

I LOVE chocolate.

Jenene said...

The non-pregnant version of me would be totally on board! She LOVES dark chocolate and hates milk chocolate.

But pregnant me is not very interestd in chocolate these days. And if I do eat it, I'm afraid I'm completely turned off by the dark stuff and only want milk chocolate.

I'm such a picky eater these days. It's so sad! So many of my formerly favorite foods completely turn me off now!

If only I could survive and thrive on Salt & Vinegar chips...

...::Heather @ Mrs. Southern Bride::... said...

I think I should print this off and show it to my husband, he thinks I'm crazy for chocolate, haha. ;-)

katie said...

mmm mmm mmm! Tasty and healthy makes for a happy wife!

Jessica said...

Yay! More reasons to love chocolate! Haha...I love chocolate, the darker, the better :-)

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