Chocolate is a time honored present for Valentines Day and other holidays. Health chocolate can be purchased that will brighten the heart and the body. Chocolate has many health benefits and has even been used as an aphrodisiac. Healthy chocolate increases antioxidant activity, benefits heart health, lowers blood pressure, reduces cholesterol, and increases the hormones responsible for happiness and pain relief. The main thing to look for when buying healthy chocolate is to buy dark chocolate. Milk chocolate has more milk and sugar than dark chocolate. Also look for organic chocolate or cold processed chocolate, which is readily available in specialty food stores and online. Avoid white chocolate, as it does not a healthy chocolate, lacking the antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients.
Health benefits of chocolate
Chocolate contains fiber, antioxidants, magnesium, and healthy saturated fats, oleic and linoleic acids, catechins and epicatechins. The antioxidants in healthy chocolate aid in memory retention and cardiovascular health. The magnesium relaxes muscles and helps the body absorb calcium. Healthy chocolate contains phenylethylamine, which increases the brain neurotransmitters of dopamine and serotonin. These neurotransmitters reduce appetite, stimulate the nervous system, and have been known to have aphrodisiac properties, increasing libido. Research conducted in German in 2003 and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reported that 100-grams of chocolate a day lowered blood pressure. Eating one chocolate bar a week has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke by 22 percent.
The best type of healthy chocolate
When buying healthy chocolate, purchase that which has a high cocoa content. Many bars are now labeled with 60% of 70 percent cacao. Chocolate grows in many parts of the world and each locale produces a different flavor, much like fine wine. Some companies package chocolate with other ingredients to increase the health benefits, such as the antioxidant levels. Do not purchase white chocolate, as previously mentioned. White chocolate contains the fat from the chocolate plant but the health giving benefits of chocolate are in the dark part of the cocoa bean.
About the author
Melanie Grimes is a writer, medical editor and health educator. A classically trained homeopath, she has lectured internationally and been on faculty at Bastyr University, American Medical College of Homeopathy, and Seattle School of Homeopathy. She has been the editor of Simillimum, Journal of the Homeopathic Association of Naturopathic Physicians, and The American Homeopath, Journal of the North American Society of Homeopaths. An award-winning screenwriter, Melanie has taught creative writing, and authored medical textbooks.
You can follow her blog at http://melaniegrimes.com.
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