It is no secret that chocolate evokes feelings of euphoria, contentment, and rapture in many individuals. But, as many things go these days, chocolate has gone under more and more scrutiny in order to determine just what it is about it that captivates us so. So just what is in chocolate, and can it be true that it really IS good for us?
Well, here’s the deal. Chocolate contains a lot of good stuff. To begin with, it has flavonoids. These flavonoids are the same ones found in red wine, tea and onions, and have been implicated in cardiovascular protection, lowering of high blood pressure, and increasing blood flow to the brain and extremities.
Other good news… chocolate also contains a “veritable storehouse of natural minerals”, including cooper, iron, magnesium, and various antioxidants. Antioxidants help to protect against bad cholesterol.
And the fat? Yes, there is a lot of it. BUT, it is one-third stearic acid, and one-third palmitic oil. Neither of these fats will raise cholesterol. The other third of the fat is oleic acid, which is the same monounsaturated substance found in olive oil.
And how about the stimulating part? Apparently, chocolate contains a thing called phenylethylamine, which has some “drug-like effects”. In addition, there are “endogenous opioid peptides”, which can also make us feel pretty good. Then there is caffeine and another stimulant called theobromine. However, note that a cup of cacao contains 20 milligrams or less of caffeine, which is half as much as that in an average cup of tea (coffee has around 115 mg/cup).
But before you go rushing out to buy that Mars bar, take note: processing and additives will negate or greatly dilute the beneficial effects of chocolate’s nutrients. And, the additives used tend to be bad for you. Therefore, in your quest for a more healthy chocolate-eating life, pick the least processed, most straightforward stuff you can find, and then try not to eat too much of it.
Alas, the same holds for chocolate as for most other things. Some is good, but too much is not!
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