Health Benefits of Chocolate
The health benefits of chocolate include active heart function, mood elevation, proper brain and nervous function, stress relief, etc.
Chocolate is….! Oops! I am really so sorry to try to introduce Chocolate to you. This world famous favorite really needs no introductions. Okay! Then I will just tell you that it is equally dear to the young and the old and to men and women and that you will be surprised to know that your favorite cocoa was there in use even 3000 years back and that the three essential components of chocolate are cocoa (scientific name is Theobroma cacao L.), milk and sugar and that this mouth watering treat can be very beneficial for your health. Want to know what are those benefits? Check this out then.
The health benefits of chocolate include the following:
Brain and Nervous System: Chocolate contains vitamin-C and anti oxidant Flavonoids whose main components are Polyphenols like Catechins, Epicatechins and Procyandins which prevents brain and the nervous system from becoming dull with age and protects them from damages by free radicals. They also increase serotonin levels in the brain which increases efficiency of the brain, keeps it active and sharp. They are also helpful in treatment of nervous disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Heart Function: Flavonoids such as Epicatechin & Gallic acid are very effective in keeping the heart healthy, particularly against age and stress. Stearic acid, in spite of being a saturated fatty acid found in cocoa, do not contribute to cholesterol and can even reduce possibility of heart attacks. The anti oxidant properties of the Flavonoids also protect the heart against damages inflicted by the free radicals.
Mood Elevator, Antidepressant and Stimulant: Cocoa contains Caffeine (although not as much as coffee contains it) which is an alkaloid, Theobromine and Phenylethylamine (an amine, particularly known to be anti depressant) all of which are stimulant in nature. They are very effective as mood elevators and anti depressants. Cocoa also contains Tryptophan, an amino acid which has relaxing effects. This has soothing and refreshing effects in cases of tension and stress.
Blood Pressure: Flavonoids in cocoa contain polyphenols like Catechins, Epicatechins and Procyandins etc. which have been seen to increase nitric oxide level in the blood which helps maintaining proper blood pressure. Nitric Oxide is particularly helpful in preventing thickening or coagulation (clotting) of blood and maintaining fluidity, thereby decreasing pressure on the arteries and veins and finally regulating blood pressure. One more compound, Theobromine is slightly diuretic in nature. This promotes urinating which also helps lowering high blood pressure. Potassium in cocoa is also helpful in lowering blood pressure. On the other hand, in case of persons suffering from low blood pressure, the stimulants like Caffeine and Theobromine and the sugar present in chocolate, helps elevate blood pressure to correct levels.
Oxidation: The polyphenols like Catechins, Epicatechins and Procyandins etc. (components of Flavonoids) and vitamin-C present in cocoa are very good anti oxidants. They minimize the effects of free radicals and heal up the damage. Very effective in preventing age related disorders such as loss of vision and hearing, dullness of brain, macular degeneration, nervous disorders etc.
Diarrhea: Cocoa, due to its alkaloids, has been in use against diarrhea since ages.
Cancer: Flavonoids in cocoa are good anti carcinogens. They prevent growth of cancerous cells. This is aided by their anti oxidant properties which also help neutralize carcinogenic effects of free radicals.
Aphrodisiac: Theobromine & Phenethylamine are two compounds which are supposed to be aphrodisiac in nature (proofs still to be analyzed and documented), may be due to their stimulating properties.
Cough & Cold: Cocoa, again due to vitamin-C, alkaloids and Flavonoids present in it, gives relief in cough and cold. The fatty acids such as Stearic acid, Palmitic acid and Oleic acid in it relieves throat sore due to continuous coughing, cold etc.
Diabetes: Dark and sugar free chocolate (cocoa) is very bitter to taste due to presence of alkaloids like caffeine and others. This bitterness of these alkaloids neutralizes the sugar in blood. Moreover, being stimulant in nature, they stimulate secretion of bile and insulin, which again help break down the sugar and lower its level in the blood.
Other Benefits: Fatty acids like Stearic acid & Palmitic acid (both saturated) and Oleic acid (unsaturated) help put on weight and give energy, without the risk of accumulating cholesterol, as far as pure cocoa is concerned. When cocoa is made into chocolate, the amount of cholesterol you get depends on type of milk (toned, semi toned or full cream) and milk products (butter, milk solids) used in it and the exercises you do. The sugar in chocolate also gives energy. It also relaxes body. Cocoa is also rich in minerals like iron (good for blood), calcium (good for bones), magnesium (cures acidity and improves digestion), copper (disinfectant) and potassium (regulates blood pressure).
Few Words of Caution: Chocolates with lot of milk cream, butter and sugar is not recommended for obese people or those who have very little physical activity. Rather, it is good for athletes and hard toilers. Eating too much of dark and sugar free chocolate can drop sugar level in the blood to alarming levels and can cause fatigue. The alkaloids can cause headache, migraine, neurotic disturbances, allergy and constipation. The caffeine in it neutralizes other drugs (particularly homeopathic medicines) and hence chocolates should be avoided in such cases. Cocoa is addictive due to presence of caffeine and other alkaloids and amines. Cocoa may lead to lead poisoning in the long run as cocoa beans absorb lead. Taking it with milk reduces the above discussed adverse effects to a great extent but not completely. Cocoa can be dangerous for some pets. So, don’t eat them indiscriminately.
This article has educated you on the potential benefits of chocolate. So consider having one of many chocolate hampers delivered to you.
This article was contributed by Aparup Mukherjee.