Rich in nutrients – Chocolate with a high content of cocoa is loaded with nutrients, including a soluble fiber while also rich in iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and potassium. Dark chocolate also contains a slight amount of mono- and polyunsaturated fats – good fats – which are shown to reduce cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease.
I only recommend buying and eating small amounts of minimally processed dark chocolate with a cacao content of at least 70 percent. This type of chocolate contains the most powerful antioxidants and the least amount of sugar. Thankfully, there are a lot of chocolate brands today that offer options that fits this 70 percentage minimum suggestion. The higher the percentage, the greater the potential health benefits of dark chocolate.
In moderation (one ounce or less per day), dark chocolate has been shown to improve so many common and chronic health problems. With all of its natural and health-promoting components (like flavonoids, polyphenols and flavanols), dark chocolate is an antioxidant powerhouse and a superfood that’s truly a joy to eat. It’s been shown to boost heart and brain health, along with fight disease — just some of the many benefits of dark chocolate.
One of the components found in dark chocolate is theobromine. Theobromine is structurally quite similar to caffeine, its sister chemical. Theobromine, when consumed in larger amounts, can cause a dip in blood pressure, excitability and give energy. This energy can be followed by a crash, leading some critics to tout chocolate as a dangerous addictive substance.
Some of you may be surprised to find honey here. Although honey is a natural sweetener, it is considered a refined sugar because 96% of dry matter are simple sugars: fructose, glucose and sucrose. It is little wonder that the honey bear is the only animal found in nature with a problem with tooth-decay (honey decays teeth faster than table sugar). Honey has the highest calorie content of all sugars with 65 calories/tablespoon, compared to the 48 calories/tablespoon found in table sugar. The increased calories are bound to cause increased blood serum fatty acids, as well as weight gain, on top of the risk of more cavities.
Interestingly enough, even human breast milk was analyzed and results were 2.0 (higher than the manufactured formulas). The highest numbers came from the herbs and traditional medicine category with numbers off the charts. For example dried amla (Indian gooseberry) with 261.5 mmol/100 g. Upon closer inspection of the types of foods, there was no indication of comparison with conventional and organically grown foods. This would be an important distinction for further study considering the results of a study on organic versus conventional strawberries discovered that organic strawberries had a higher antioxidant content.
You probably know that a candy bar or can of soda aren’t exactly healthy, but you might not be aware of how exactly their sugar content is affecting your body. And while a treat every once in a while is perfectly OK, daily consumption has been shown to have pretty significant negative health outcomes. A study at the University of California San Francisco found that drinking a 20-ounce soda on a daily basis was equivalent to 4.6 years of cell aging, the same as smoking cigarettes—and this cell aging has previously been linked with a shorter human lifespan. The things that happen to your body when you stop eating sugar, on the other hand, are beneficial to your health.
Interestingly, the antioxidant content in human breast milk is comparable to that in pomegranate juice, strawberries and coffee and on average higher than the antioxidant content observed in the commercially available infant formulas analyzed in our study. Breakfast cereals are also potential important sources of antioxidants; some of these products have antioxidant contents comparable to berries, which are fairly high, compared to other grain products and may be due to antioxidants added to the products in fortification process.
The research included information that animal studies have found the hippocampus, which is an area in the brain associated with memory, may be affected by refined sugar. Two studies were conducted in the published report. In the first study, participants that self-reported eating a high-sugar diet had poorer performance on hippocampal related memory tasks. In the second study, the results were replicated. The second study also revealed that the effect of high sugar consumption on memory appears to be directly related to the hippocampal region and no other areas which may also affect memory, such as the prefrontal cortex.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Nutrition demonstrated flavonoid-rich dark chocolate’s ability to improve cognitive ability, specifically in the elderly. This cross-sectional study of over 2,000 participants ages 70 to 74 years old looked at the relationship between the intake of chocolate, wine and tea (all rich in flavonoids) and cognitive performance. The study concludes that “intake of flavonoid-rich food, including chocolate, wine, and tea, is associated with better performance across several cognitive abilities and that the associations are dose dependent.” The researchers suggest that further studies should take into account other bioactive dietary substances in chocolate, wine and tea to ensure that it’s their flavonoid content that helps the brain so much. (9)
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Back when food was way scarcer, our ancient ancestors needed to take every advantage they had to consume high calorie foods. So the human brain evolved to perceive sugar—and fat—as very rewarding, says Schwartz. Today, our brains are still wired for feast or famine, even though you can buy thousands of calories of food for a couple bucks at the local convenience store.
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While it’s good for your brain and digestive health, dark chocolate can benefit your heart even more. Research shows that the flavonoids naturally found in chocolate can help lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol. Flavonoids can also significantly decrease systolic blood pressure in healthy older adults. Dark chocolate has also been found to improve insulin resistance and endothelial dysfunction, both of which have a positive effect on the heart. In fact, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, in individuals who suffered a previous heart attack, eating chocolate twice a week compared with never eating chocolate has been shown to lower the risk of death from heart disease by 66 percent.
It is widely accepted that a plant-based diet with high intake of fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-rich plant foods may reduce the risk of oxidative stress-related diseases [1-6]. Understanding the complex role of diet in such chronic diseases is challenging since a typical diet provides more than 25,000 bioactive food constituents , many of which may modify a multitude of processes that are related to these diseases. Because of the complexity of this relationship, it is likely that a comprehensive understanding of the role of these bioactive food components is needed to assess the role of dietary plants in human health and disease development. We suggest that both their numerous individual functions as well as their combined additive or synergistic effects are crucial to their health beneficial effects, thus a food-based research approach is likely to elucidate more health effects than those derived from each individual nutrient. Most bioactive food constituents are derived from plants; those so derived are collectively called phytochemicals. The large majority of these phytochemicals are redox active molecules and therefore defined as antioxidants. Antioxidants can eliminate free radicals and other reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, and these reactive species contribute to most chronic diseases. It is hypothesized that antioxidants originating from foods may work as antioxidants in their own right in vivo, as well as bring about beneficial health effects through other mechanisms, including acting as inducers of mechanisms related to antioxidant defense [7,8], longevity [9,10], cell maintenance and DNA repair .
A German study of the diets of more than 19,000 people found that eating chocolate may help lower blood pressure, and in turn, cardiovascular disease risk. A widespread analysis of numerous studies on the topic conducted by Australian researchers also found limited but noticeable blood pressure benefits from eating the superfood. Again, very few studies pinpoint the exact amount of dark chocolate or flavonoids needed to get this effect, and more scientific study is needed.
Herbert's blood sugar was measured on seven different days before and during the challenge. Her average before was 6.0 and while consuming zero sugar it was 5.4. Catsicas says, "It seems cutting sugar out of the diet significantly improves average blood glucose levels. Maintaining lower blood glucose levels is beneficial as it places less stress on the beta cells in the pancreas to produce insulin.
Although some preliminary studies suggest that antioxidant supplements may help thwart disease development by reducing oxidative stress, more research is needed before such supplements can be recommended for disease prevention. In fact, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health states that findings from rigorous scientific studies involving a total of more than 100,000 people have largely indicated that antioxidant supplements may not reduce the risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and cancer.
It was in 1847 that a British chocolate company (J.S. Fry & Sons) created the first solid edible chocolate bar from three ingredients: cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar. Huge names like Cadbury, Mars and Hershey came into the picture in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The love of chocolate has only continued to grow over the years. Now many mainstream chocolate producers make “dark chocolate” that really isn’t very healthy. On the other hand, there are now more and more companies making high-quality, high-cacao/cocoa content chocolate that’s not only dark, but also organic and fairly traded.
Sugar addiction is a real and growing concern for a large majority of the world’s population. But how exactly does this happen? The Huffington Post explains that when a person consumes sugar, the tongue’s taste buds become activated and send signals to the brain, “lighting up reward pathways and causing a surge of feel-good hormones, like dopamine, to be released.”
Certain vitamins and minerals support healthy blood sugar levels. Magnesium in leafy green vegetables and nuts, for instance, can improve insulin sensitivity. Eating a whole, unprocessed foods diet can provide these nutrients to optimize immune function. A multivitamin-mineral (available for men, women, and kids) can cover the nutrient bases you might not be getting from food.
Allen, R. R., Carson, L., Kwik-Uribe, C., Evans, E. M., & Erdman, J. W.,. (2008, April). Daily consumption of a dark chocolate containing flavanols and added sterol esters affects cardiovascular risk factors in a normotensive population with elevated cholesterol. [Abstract]. Journal of Nutrition. 138(4):725-31. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18356327
People with high levels of sugar consumption are much more likely to become obese or overweight, no matter what age — even children. In fact, children who drink a serving of sugar-sweetened beverage daily have a 60 percent greater chance of become obese. This sets your child up for a lifetime of being overweight or obese — plus, all of the potential health
The first high antioxidant foods that probably come to mind is probably fruits and vegetables, and for good reason! They rich in antioxidants and other healthy food components, such as slow release carbohydrates, protein and fiber. Here are the top 15 antioxidant fruits and vegetables commonly available in the U.S. Figures reflect antioxidant content in millimoles (mmol) per 100 g.
It’s important to maintain the balance between antioxidants and oxidants in the body for good health. However, the free radicals or oxidants usually outnumber the antioxidants naturally produced in the body. Therefore, it is important to have a continuous supply of antioxidants from an external source to maintain this balance. Your diet is this external source and it must be packed with good quality antioxidants. This, in turn, provides other benefits like slowing down the signs of ageing, making your skin look youthful and lowering the risk of heart disease. A diet rich in antioxidants is also known to keep your brain active and your gut healthy. Needless to say, all these factors help in improving the quality and length of your life.Here are seven antioxidant rich foods that you must eat regularly and add to your daily diet if you haven’t already:
The Western lifestyle — with its processed foods, reliance on medications, and high exposure to chemicals or environmental pollutants — seems to lay the foundation for the proliferation of free radicals. Because many of us are exposed to such high rates of oxidative stress from a young age, more than ever we need the power of antioxidants, which means we need to consume high antioxidant foods.
These broccoli cousins have plenty of bitter sulforaphane as well as compounds called isothiocyanates, which detoxify cancer-causing substances in the body before they can do their dirty work. In one Dutch study, guys who ate Brussels sprouts daily for three weeks had 28 percent less genetic damage (gene damage is a root cause of cancer) than those who didn’t eat sprouts. You won’t believe the way Brussels sprouts are grown.
But these benefits could have an even bigger impact: Flavonoids foundin dark chocolate may someday be useful in potentially treating neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. One study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease found an association between eating chocolate and reduced risk of cognitive decline, perhaps due to protective effects of the cocoa flavanols.
To date, studies have confirmed that chronic inflammation contribute to factors that increase your risk of developing cancer, including DNA mutations and cancer cell growth. Research has confirmed that the antioxidants in dark chocolate have a strong ability to fight the DNA damage that could lead to cancer development, as well as reduce certain inflammation enzymes that could encourage its growth (12).