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Does Chocolate Have Any Health Benefits?

Jan 25, 2008
Many controversial health foods have come and gone but one of the most debated is probably chocolate. There have been so many studies conducted, with each study producing different claims. The thing about chocolate is that people love the taste and are pretty eager to believe any health claims the read about.

The reason chocolate is the focus of so many studies is because it contains a class of phytochemicals called flavonoids. These flavonoids are linked to improved circulatory system and they can also help remove free radicals from our bodies because they are antioxidants.

To many people this is all the evidence they require to scoff whole chocolate bars in one sitting. However you should be aware that most chocolate also contains copious amounts of fat and sugar which tends to negate any health benefits. Also if you're looking for sources of antioxidants, look to increase your consumption of fruit and veg. Tea is also a great source.

That's not to say you can't have a few squares of chocolate occasionally. Chocolate can come in very handy if are out and about and feeling a need for an energy boost. Whilst out walking, running or cycling for instance. The added fat can also regulate some hormones in the brain and give us a boot of energy.

Although chocolate may contain fat, not all fat is created equally. The type in chocolate is a saturated fat called stearic acid. Usually it's best to avoid saturated fat but in this case, stearic acid can actually help lower "bad cholesterol."

What Else Does Chocolate Contain?

Chocolate contains 10-30% less caffeine than coffee but that may actually be a good thing. It seems that a small amount of caffeine can be good for you.

There has been a fair amount of press about serotonin so you probably know that it can help elevate your mood. Chocolate contains tryptophan which is a precursor to serotonin. Chocolate may also help you release endorphins which are something you normally get whilst exercising.

Then there is theobromine which is a relation to caffeine. It's a mild stimulant, helps us stay alert and give us a generally more positive outlook on life. No wonder so many people become addicted to chocolate!

Whether you believe all the hype about the health benefits of chocolate is up to you. Just be aware that chocolate isn't a substitute for fruit and veg. A small amount is great for keeping us happy and healthy but too much can make you fat. Plus you should know that the healthiest chocolates are the ones with a high amount of cocoa solids.
About the Author
April often writes articles for Natural Health Remedies site which also has articles relating to the health benefits of garlic and what foods give you energy.
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