Looking for Regional Information?

Hooray for Chocolate!

By Charles Hopkins Published 04/22/2006 | Alternative Medicine
There is great news for chocolate lovers...Chocolate is good for your health! Now, we are not talking here about a candy bar but about real chocolate, the kind that contains at least 71% of real cocoa. Something to remember when selecting chocolate is that the darker it is, the less sugar it contains and the better it is for you.

We are all aware of the emotional benefits of chocolate. By liberating endorphins in the body, chocolate provides us with feelings of comfort and wellbeing, energy and pleasure. Some surveyed women go as far a saying that they would prefer chocolate to sex! No wonder with such a texture, rich color and taste, chocolate is not only an aphrodisiac but also a pleasure for the senses. In addition, chocolate also contains serotonin and caffeine which both provide energy and promote good humor.

Pleasure aside, chocolate also holds beneficial health properties. Chocolate's complex chemical composition offers a variety of substances that the body needs to function properly and to prevent disease.

Chocolate enhances cardiovascular health. Like red wine, the phenols contained in dark chocolate help prevent coronary diseases. The British Medical Journal reports that a daily portion of 100 grams of dark chocolate reduces blood pressure and the occurrence of cardiovascular incidents by 21%. These phenols are also rich in antioxidants and they help neutralize free radicals produced by the body or absorbed thought cigarette smoke and other sources of pollution. Cocoa butter is already used in creams to heal scars and burns. No wonder pharmaceutical companies are now exploring the possibility of researching with chocolate to develop new medication to counter cancers and osteoporosis.

Chocolate does contain fats but these are unsaturated and contribute to reducing bad cholesterol and to increasing good cholesterol. Chocolate is also an excellent source of magnesium. Should it contain nuts, chocolate can become a great source phosphor and vegetable iron.

One of the many benefits of living in our time is that there is a plethora of organic and fair trade chocolates that are readily available to us in natural health food and grocery stores. The benefits of purchasing these types of chocolates abound but the most obvious are that they do not contain organochlorine pesticides that are usually used to treat traditional cocoa crops and that are harmful not only to the consumer but also to the field worker. Furthermore, purchasing fair trade chocolate ensures that the (healthier) worker can benefit from improved working and living conditions by receiving a fair salary for their work.

Like with everything however, chocolate must be consumed in good measure. Chocolate increases caloric intake and energy level. This can be good, provided these calories are burned. We might even change the saying to "Some chocolate everyday keeps the doctor away!"