Love & Chocolate
February. It’s that month with the funny spelling and the short days. The time when that “special someone” in your life scrambles to buy you pretty flowers and fancy chocolates to make up for the rest of the year when they weren’t showing their love and appreciation. All sarcasm aside, you don’t need a fancy day to celebrate and eat chocolate!
I’m convinced Chocolate is from heaven. I imagine cute little angels stirring giant pots of that sweet liquid brown stuff, adding in their magical ingredients of love and happiness. Only God in his infinite wisdom could have created something so delicious that brings joy to the soul and health to the heart! Yes, dark chocolate containing 70% or higher of cacao or cocoa contains healthy compounds called flavonoids. These flavonoids are full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that help lower blood sugar levels, improve LDL or “bad cholesterol, and improve HDL or “good” cholesterol.
Here are some encouraging and healthy facts about Dark Chocolate:
- 1) Good for your Heart – Dark chocolate helps your arteries relax and widen improving blood flow and lowering your blood pressure. It helps prevent the build up of plague, and may help prevent the formation of blood clots.
- 2) Good for your Brain – Not only does Dark chocolate increase blood flow to the heart but also to the brain, this improves cognitive function. Chocolate also contains nature’s most concentrated source of theobromine, a mild natural stimulant. It gives you a lift without strongly stimulating the central nervous system like caffeine. But chocolate also makes you “feel good”. Phenylethylamine (PEA) is the compound in chocolate that has a positive effect on your mood and cognitive health. It is the same chemical your brain creates when you feel like you’re falling in love. PEA encourages your brain to release endorphins, which makes you feel happy!
- 1) Controls Blood Sugar – The flavonoids in the Dark chocolate help reduce insulin resistance by helping your cells to function normally and control sugar levels in the blood. Dark chocolate also has a low glycemic index, so it won’t cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels that lead to weight gain.
- 1) Full of Antioxidants – Antioxidants help free your body of free radicals which cause oxidative damage to cells. Free radicals are believed to stimulate the aging process and cause cancer. Dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants. In fact, cocoa has more antioxidants ounce for ounce than blueberries, green tea and red wine.
- 1) High in Vitamins and Minerals – Here are some of the vitamins and minerals you will find in that delicious Dark chocolate bar:
The copper and potassium help prevent against stroke and cardiovascular problems. The iron in chocolate protects against iron deficiency anemia, and the magnesium helps prevent type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
So there you have it! Five more reasons, as if you needed any more, to eat chocolate! Just remember, it has to be Dark chocolate. With all the good feelings and health associated with this little treat, it’s a great way to say I love you!