by Sara O'Brein
Chocolate! You love it and try to resist. Should you?
We have good news!
Recent research reveals that we can and should enjoy chocolate and its health benefits.
We've listed the top ten below:
1. It's Yummy!
Doh! That's a no brainer you're probably thinking. We agree. Chocolate is the nectar of the gods.
2. Chocolate Makes You Feel Good
Not only does chocolate taste good, it stimulates endorphin production which makes you feel super. Chocolate also boosts brain levels of serotonin, a natural anti-depressant. If you're pregnant, chocolate makes your baby happier. You might even feel a few kicks of pleasure!
3. Chocolate Lowers Risk of Pre-Eclampsia
Scientific research suggests that eating chocolate -- the darker the better -- during your pregnancy may indeed be good for mother and baby. A study by Elizabeth Triche of Yale University found that women who ate more chocolate were less likely to develop pre-eclampsia than women who ate less.
4. Prevents Tooth Decay
Huh? Chocolate does that? It sure does! Research has found that the theobromine in chocolate prevents tooth decay by eliminating streptococcus mutans, a bacteria found in the oral cavity that contributes to tooth decay. Now you know!
5. Source of Antioxidants
These protective chemicals help the body's cells resist damage caused by free radicals. These are formed by normal body processes such as breathing and from environmental contaminants like cigarette smoke.
6. Cancer Fighter
Several studies have found chocolate to be one of the best cancer-fighting foods along with foods like red wine, blueberries, garlic, and tea. Chocolate works two ways as a cancer fighter -- inhibiting cell division and reducing inflammation.
7. Brain Health
Many studies have shown that dark chocolate is good for the brain. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that it can protect the brain after a stroke by shielding the nerve cells from further damage. Dark chocolate has also been found to improve memory. Now you have an excuse to eat chocolate when you're doing your favorite puzzle games!
8. Lowers LDL Cholesterol
Eating dark chocolate on a regular basis has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol by as much as 10%.
9. Lowers Blood Pressure
Dark chocolate has been shown in studies to lower blood pressure in people with elevated blood pressure.
10. Prevents Atherosclerosis
One of the causes of atherosclerosis is blood platelets clumping together, a process called aggregation. The polyphenols in chocolate inhibit this clumping, reducing the risks of atherosclerosis. Then the antioxidants in cacao work like brooms in sweeping plaque out of the arteries. Go chocolate!
Although these findings don't give a free license to binge on chocolate, we find it encouraging that a bit of chocolate can improve our health, our moods and our memory!
What's your favorite kind of chocolate?
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