Dark chocolate and cocoa is derived from cocoa beans which are grown in pods on the cacao tree. Antioxidants in chocolate are from the cocoa beans. They are a rich source of natural antioxidants called flavonoids and phytochemicals called polyphenols. Flavonoids have many antioxidant properties.
Benefits of Dark Chocolate
You may be surprised, as I was, that there are many health benefits to eating cocoa and dark chocolate. Here is the report of one study.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported on the effects of cocoa and dark chocolate on a study done on 23 healthy Americans. That's not a very large study - but let's look at the results anyway. The published results were:
Cocoa powder and dark chocolate may favorably affect cardiovascular disease risk status by
1) modestly reducing LDL oxidation susceptibility,
2) increasing serum total antioxidant capacity and
3) increasing HDL-cholesterol concentrations, and
4) not adversely affecting prostaglandins
Antioxidants combat and neutralize free radicals which cause damage to our cells, and in particular the macula where lots of oxidation takes place.
Dark Chocolate Antioxidant Tips
1) Dark chocolate has much more antioxidants than milk chocolate. Milk chocolate has the least amount of total antioxidant capacity.
2) The richer in cocoa the better. Select chocolates with at least 70% cocoa content.
3) Natural cocoa powders contain the highest amount of total antioxidant capacity.
4) Don't eat your dark chocolate with a glass of cold milk - the milk interferes with absorption.
5) Most of the studies used about 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate a day to get the benefits.
"Eating a little bit of chocolate or having a drink of hot cocoa as part of a regular diet is probably good for personal health, so long as people don't eat too much of it, and too much of the kind with lots of butter and sugar," said Diane Becker, the lead researcher of an 18 month study at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
To see a list of foods high in antioxidants go to:
Leslie Degner, RN,BSN
Better Health For Better Vision
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Leslie_Degner
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