Chocolate as health food

 

Prevention magazine

Are you a chocoholic? Turns out your little addiction may save your life. A recent study found that those consuming the highest levels of chocolate had a 37 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29 percent reduction in stroke compared to those with lower chocolate intakes.

Though we should stick to moderate consumption of high-calorie chocolates, it’s hard to deny the cold hard facts that chocolate can be a healthy addition to our diets. Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants that promote heart health and may prevent many cardiovascular-related conditions, but we’ve dug up more surprising health benefits. Here, five new ways to justify your chocolate craving.

1. Chocolate may help you with math

Flavonols, compounds in chocolate with antioxidant-like properties, are thought to improve circulation, including blood flow to the brain. One study asked participants to count backward in groups of three from a number between 800 and 999. After drinking hot cocoa filled with flavonols, the participants were able to do calculations more quickly and accurately and were less likely to feel tired or mentally drained.

2. Chocolate fills you up

Moms have forever warned of spoiling dinner by eating a treat beforehand. Turns out they were right. Researchers gave 16 participants 100 grams of either dark or milk chocolate and two hours later offered them pizza. Those who consumed the dark chocolate ate 15 percent fewer calories than those who had milk chocolate, and they were less interested in fatty, salty, and sugary foods.

3. Chocolate makes you feel better

Chocolate contains phenethylamine, which triggers the release of endorphins. This reaction is similar to the one that people experience when they fall in love. Don’t believe us? Doctors at the Mind Lab in England asked six couples to let squares of dark chocolate melt in their mouths and then kiss, all while hooked up to brain and heart monitors. Both tasks made participants’ hearts pound and brains buzz, but chocolate doubled excitation rates in the brain’s pleasure center during the kiss, especially in women.

4. Chocolate helps you relax

Reach for a Hershey bar when you’re stressed? There’s a biological reason for that. Studies have shown that chocolate contains the compound anandamide that activates the same brain receptors as marijuana. No wonder a bite brings on bliss.

5. Chocolate may help you live longer

One study found that candy consumption can help you live longer — almost a full year longer! — than those who abstain from the sweet stuff. Participants who ate candy one to three times a month had the lowest mortality rates of the group, and researches postulate this may be due to the antioxidants in chocolate. Another study also found that heart attack survivors who ate chocolate were less likely to die than those who went without. Stick to a one-ounce serving to get your fix without wrecking your waistline.

For more great tips, pick up a copy of Prevention magazine or visit www.prevention.com.

Read more Health stories from the Miami Herald

  • Cancer

    Fasting can improve chemo effects

    The history of cancer treatment includes a long list of quack diets claiming patients can eat their way back to good health, but one approach, which involves eating less and minimizing carbohydrates, appears to produce genuine benefits.

  • chew on this

    Chew on This: Spices make food flavorful, and more healthy

    Science has once again validated observation and common sense. This time it is herbs and spices going through scientific review.

  • Skin Deep

    What’s the difference between skin rejuvenation and skin resurfacing?

    Although the terms “skin rejuvenation” and “skin resurfacing” are often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference. Rejuvenation is anything that makes the skin look better—i.e. skincare products, treatments or in-office procedures—while resurfacing refers to a treatment or procedure that physically removes the top layer of the skin. Simply put, skin resurfacing is just one way to accomplish skin rejuvenation.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category