Health benefits of dark chocolate they are abundantly more than average food. You could even say that dark chocolate is a superfood. Raw, unprocessed cacao is the most antioxidant-rich food on the planet. However, there is one thing to consider, more than 50% of that medicinal value is destroyed during processing. There is a manufacturer that is doing something different. The makers of Xocai Healthy Chocolate use a proprietary cold-press method. This process produces a healthy chocolate high in antioxidants that has medicinal value intact and not cooked. A 12g piece of Xocai chocolate, for example, has as many and perhaps more antioxidants as 12 lbs. of tomatoes, or over 1.5 lbs. of spinach, or 2 lbs. of Raspberries.

The USDA recommends that the minimum intake of antioxidants be 3,000 to 5,000 ORAC per day. When exposed to excess toxins, or when exercising frequently, one needs even more.

Time and time again, research shows us that there is a direct correlation between our health and antioxidant intake.

Cocoa is high in polyphenols, mostly flavonoids-flavan-3-ols, flavonols (epicatechin and catechin) and procyanidins. Cocoa comes from a plant called Theobromo cacoa. Fifty percent of the weight of the cocoa bean is cocoa butter, the main fatty acids being stearic and palmitic (saturated fats), oleic (monounsaturated fatty acid also present in olive oil) and linoleic acid (polyunsaturated). Stearic acid fat does not raise blood cholesterol like many other saturated fatty acids. Both insoluble fiber and soluble fiber are found in the cocoa bean, which helps reduce cholesterol levels. Fiber is extremely important in reducing colon cancer rates, preventing constipation, and improving sugar metabolism. Several useful minerals and vitamins are also found in the cocoa bean. One of these helpful nutrients found in dark chocolate is magnesium, which is important for muscle relaxation, energy production, nerve conduction, as well as the health and development of teeth and bones. PMS (premenstrual syndrome) can be associated with magnesium deficiencies. Dark cocoa is a rich source of copper, which is involved in many of the body’s chemical processes. Dark cocoa is also high in potassium, which is vital for cardiovascular health.

By weight, chocolate has the highest concentration of flavonoids: flavan-3-ols, flavonols (epicatechin and catechin), and procyanidins of all foods. Loaded with a variety of phytonutrients, it makes chocolate very high in antioxidants. To measure the rates of antioxidants in food, the scientific test called ORAC is used. ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity. One of the highest on the ORAC scale is chocolate. Higher than green tea and red wine, dark chocolate has more effective antioxidants.

Cocoa helps reduce cardiovascular damage by increasing the production of good cholesterol (HDL), which works to cleanse and cleanse blood vessels of harmful fats. Cocoa flavonoids reduce platelets so they don’t form harmful clots that damage the blood vessels of the heart muscle. By helping blood vessels to dilate more easily, flavonoids allow increased blood flow to the heart (nitric oxide (NO) activation). The same is true for insulin-stimulated blood sugar uptake leading to better diabetes control. Cocoa also has anti-inflammatory properties, which prevents the inflammatory process (cytokines) from damaging the body.

Dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure in many studies, which of course reduces damage to the vessels of the heart. Also, cocoa is a renin-angiotension enzyme inhibitor, which works just like many blood pressure pills (ACE inhibitors).

Dark cocoa helps reduce tooth decay, prevents gum disease, and decreases plaque on teeth according to other research.

Antioxidant principles can be applied to slow the progression of dementia. Vitamins such as vitamin E and some B vitamins have also been used to help with dementia. As mentioned above, cocoa has the same ability to decrease free radical damage, which in turn helps improve memory and limit dementia.

Dark chocolate improves the body’s ability to use insulin and at the same time stops the resistance problem that can lead to diabetes. Cocoa helps increase nitric oxide levels, which helps with insulin-stimulated blood sugar uptake. This also improves the health of the blood vessels, decreasing the damage of diabetes to the small vessels.

Liver damage has been reduced by Cocoa, while it can repair liver cells even after prolonged exposure to alcohol.

The antioxidant properties of cocoa may also affect cancer. By stopping the oxidation of cells, antioxidants can hinder the growth of cancer cells.

Some other things we find in chocolate are theobromine, a very small amount of caffeine, phenylethylamine (PEA, the “love chemical”), and anandamide, which increases mental awareness. Research speaks to the antidepressant effects of chocolate showing that it increases serotonin and dopamine levels. Chocolate also helps curb our appetite for fat and helps decrease our fat intake. Cocoa by itself can also decrease your appetite. The carbohydrates in chocolate increase energy. The central nervous system is stimulated by theobromine giving us additional energy. A cousin of theophylline, theobromine helps open up the lungs to improve breathing, as it is also used in cough medicines. Low libido levels in women may be improved by chocolate, studies have shown.

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