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The Sweet Life: The Health Benefits of Chocolate

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By Rachel Derry
Staff Writer LIFamilies

Many women can relate; sometimes, after a long day, you just feel like a piece of chocolate. Something about the melt in your mouth texture just seems to make life a little better. There may be more reasons to pick up that piece of chocolate than to just elevate your current mood. The health benefits of cocoa intake seem to be growing and number every day. As with all other good things, benefit is always in moderation. When you do have it in moderation, however, there will be many added benefits to your “splurge.”

Having a little bit of chocolate in your nutritional “regiment” helps you maintain a healthy heart. Women may have been saying that chocolate is good for the heart for years, but scientists have finally proven it. In one study in Sweden, researchers discovered that have one or two servings of chocolate a week can cut a woman’s risk of heart failure by a third. Researchers in Germany discovered that a square of dark chocolate a day can lower blood pressure and reduce risk of heart attack or stroke by up to 39%!

Dark chocolate is also known to help you lose weight, if small doses are added to your diet, in moderation. Dark chocolate is not only known for its properties as an appetite suppressant, but is also believed to help lessen cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods. Adding a square of high-cocoa concentration dark chocolate to your current diet will not only give you a treat to look forward to, but also help you keep yourself on track until you reach your goal.

Chocolate also works well as pre-natal therapy. Surveys show that women who had small doses of chocolate daily during their pregnancy were able to better handle the stress of their gestation. To go a step further, a Finnish study found that the babies of the mother’s who ate chocolate daily during pregnancy were happier and smiled more. It may be a coincidence, but if you happen to love chocolate, a piece a day during pregnancy isn’t too bad of a prescription to follow!

Dark chocolate may even be a future aid in diabetic prevention steps. A small Italian study found that participants who ate about a candy bar’s worth of dark chocolate a day for 15 days cut their body’s insulin resistance by up to nearly 50%. Flavonoids in cocoa increase your nitric oxide production, which helps your body control its insulin sensitivity.

It can also act as a stress reliever. Having an ounce and a half a day, during period where you’re stressed to the max, is supposed to reduce your stress hormones significantly, as well as offset some of the metabolic effects of the stress, as well. Next time you’re pulling your hair out, don’t reach for a super sugary or salty comfort food, grab a couple of square of dark chocolate instead to help level you out.

High concentrations of cocoa may also help suppress that cough for a while. New studies show that the theobromine found in fine chocolate can has almost as much effect quieting a dry cough as codeine, without the sleepy side-effects. The theobromine is thought to suppress activity in the part of the brain that causes you to cough.

Long Island Health, Fitness & Beauty Articles > The Sweet Life: The Health Benefits of Chocolate

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