The Healthy Power of Chocolate!

A recent Harvard study of an Indian tribe off the coast of Panama is convincing evidence of the benefits of chocolate. The tribe has “perfect blood pressure numbers” as well as a significantly decreased rate of death from heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancer. Upon further inquiry, researchers learned that members of the Kuna tribe drink five cups of cocoa a day.  They have discovered that chocolate has a relaxing effect on the blood vessels, chiefly due to an ingredient known as flavanoids, an antioxidant. Researchers speculate that flavanoids stimulate the body’s production of nitric oxide, which would explain the Kuna tribe’s low rate of heart attacks, strokes and diabetes. Nitric oxide not only increases blood flow and thins the blood, but it also stimulates the production of insulin.  However, this anti-diabetic benefit could potentially be outweighed by any harmful sugars within the chocolate.

Studies with similar findings have been performed in the past, many highlighting chocolate’s ability to lower blood pressure. It should also be mentioned that DARK chocolate is the chocolate rich in the beneficial antioxidants being described here.

Other nutritional benefits of chocolate include: high levels of potassium, zinc, iron, fiber (reduces cholesterol levels) and magnesium (known to ease muscle cramps).

Also, one of the more well known powers of chocolate, is its ability to elevate mood. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine which increases the seratonin and dopamine receptors in the brain. This has been shown to reduce hunger as well as stimulate libido, which is where chocolate gets its reputation as being a natural aphrodisiac.

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