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Raising The Bar: Health Benefits of Chocolate

You probably don’t look at a chocolate bar and think, “health food!” But maybe you should. Research shows that there are many benefits of enjoying a bit of chocolate. Why? Dark chocolate has a high flavonoid content. Flavonoids, also known as bioflavonoids, are water soluble plant pigments that have been researched for their antioxidant effects. While they are not considered essential nutrients, flavonoids support health by strengthening capillaries and other connective tissue, and act as natural anti-inflammatories and anti-histamines.Antioxidants protect the body from aging caused by free radicals, which can cause damage that leads to heart disease. Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries). Flavonoids also help relax blood pressure through the production of nitric oxide, and balance certain hormones in the body. You may have heard of the health benefits of dark chocolate in particular. There are a number of recent studies which have been conducted to test the effects dark chocolate has on cardiovascular health. The research shows that dark chocolate has many health benefits:

  • Lowers bad LDL cholesterol and increases good HDL cholesterol
  • Helps prevent the oxidation of cholesterol related to plaque buildup on blood vessel walls
  • Decrease platelet aggregation (their stickiness)
  • Lowers C-reactive protein – a blood inflammatory marker
  • Lowers high blood pressure by supporting the relaxation of blood vessels
  • Due to its ability to support health blood pressure, it is also studied for its use in treating and preventing glaucoma
  • Pancreas function and Insulin sensitivity was also found to be improved by consuming just as little 8g of dark chocolate per day for 2 weeks

 

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