Dark Chocolate = Good Health

Dark chocolate might pack a double positive punch for our health. The secret behind its powerful punch is cacao, also the source of the sweet’s distinct taste. Packed with healthy chemicals like flavonoids and theobromine, this little bean is a disease-killing bullet. The only problem? Cacao on its own is bitter, chalky, nasty stuff.

Enter milk, sugar, and butter—good for your taste buds, not always good for your health. Besides adding calories, these can dilute the benefits of cacao. So snack smart: Stick to healthy chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao (or cocoa, which is cacao in its roasted, ground form).

The evidence supporting the health benefits of dark chocolate can be tied scientifically to the millions of microbes that reside in our digestive tract. New research suggesting these beneficial bacteria ferment both the antioxidants and the fiber in cocoa.

These microbes create anti-inflammatory compounds that are good for the heart and other benefits. When the good compounds are absorbed by the body, they lessen the inflammation of cardiovascular tissue, reducing the long-term risk of stroke. According to one study, daily consumption of dark chocolate or cocoa lowered people’s blood pressure an average of two to three points.

Researchers can’t be entirely sure that each person’s gut will undertake the same fermentation processes. The composition of bacterial flora will vary in different individuals. This will mean certain individuals derive more benefits than others.

Cocoa has also been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, which could be a related mechanism—both getting a boost from the polyphenols, the antioxidants in cocoa. Research published in Endocrine Abstracts showed that polyphenols in chocolate improved insulin sensitivity even in people who did not have diabetes. The results imply that dark chocolate might delay or prevent the onset of diabetes and pre-diabetes. Get more benefits by combining with fruit and a protein.

Resource: IDEA Fitness Journal

Michelle’s ability to wear many hats has made her a valuable asset to the Y.E.S. Fitness team.

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