Dark Chocolate – An Ounce a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?

caminodarkDark chocolate – some say “yuck”, others say “yum.”  To be honest, I said “yuck” when I sampled my first square.  However, it is an acquired taste, much like dark fruit cake, and over time it grew on me.  Besides, thinking of all the health benefits of dark chocolate it was a venture worth going on.  If you have never given it a try, I encourage you to do so.  Here are some reasons:

Natural Antidepressant:  I first started using dark chocolate to fight depression in 2010.  My mom sent me some information on how it fights depression and give me a gift of 30 dark chocolate squares (85%) in a bag.  She is the best mom eva!  All I needed was an ounce a day (which I think was 3 squares).  So for 10 days I tried it out and found it really did help.  I was impressed!  This experience spurred me to research more.  Here is a short paragraph I found from Manic Depressive: Understanding Depression and Biopolar Disorders:

“There is a degree of truth to the saying that dark chocolate can alleviate depression. Dark chocolate contains cocoa, an anti-depressant property that contains serotonin, dopamine, and phenylethylamine — neurotransmitters that play roles in an individual’s well-being. Cocoa is also known to facilitate the release of serotonin, as it relaxes the blood vessels in the brain.  Dark chocolate also contains a flavor that is structurally similar to valproic acid, which is used to manage the mood swings associated with bipolar disorder. Stress also plays a major role in developing depression, and dark chocolates are said to reduce the levels of the stress hormones cortisol and catecholamines.  Given these facts, it is safe to say that there is actually a delicious way of relieving depression. Special thanks to dark chocolates!”

BEWARE – there are also studies out there that link eating too much chocolate to increasing depression.  The key is to find the right kind of chocolate, keep in mind the higher the % of the cacao the better, and make sure you limit the consumption.  The general recommended daily dose is 1 ounce. So with that said, rushing to the local store and grabbing a bunch of Kit Kats and Dairy Milks off the shelf,  eating a whole bar once a day, will not work but actually send you in the other direction, perpetuating your sad state of mind.

Natural Skin Care:  one of the awesome things I discovered about dark chocolate is it can protect your skin from the sun.  For me this is good news as I gave up sunscreen a few years ago when I learned about how it actually damages the skin and the chemicals that are contained within are worse for you than sun exposure.  I also learned that it may not be the sun that is the cause of skin cancer but more likely poor diets lacking in antioxidant rich foods (aka fruits and vegetables) weakening the immune system and the human body’s ability to protect you from the sun (more on the subject of the sun and suncreen in another blog).  I found on the Reader’s Digest website this statement: “German researchers found that the flavonoids in dark chocolate absorb UV light, help protect and increase blood flow to the skin, and improve skin’s hydration and complexion.”  So eat your ounce of dark chocolate every day and enjoy stronger, healthier and younger looking skin.

Natural Antioxidant: it has been stated that the “super fruit” cacao seed is a stronger antioxidant than red wine and blueberries.   Some even claim that it’s 2 x more powerful than red wine.  Check out this information I read on the Prevention website:  “Just 1 oz of a very special chocolate packs more than twice the healthy antioxidants punch of red wine or other dark chocolates….”Cocoa is rich in antioxidant flavonoids called flavanols, which include procyanidins, epicatechins, and catechins,” explains Harold Schmitz, PhD, director of science at Mars, Inc. Studies have shown that people with high blood levels of flavonoids have lower risk of heart disease, lung cancer, prostate cancer, asthma, and type 2 diabetes.”  So there ya go, eat your dark chocolate as it will help boost your body’s ability to heal, detoxify, and fight off diseases…just don’t eat too much.

There are so many more benefits of dark chocolate such as prevention of heart disease, decreasing risk of strokes and diabetes, increasing blood flow to the brain and more.  Read about 10 benefits on Huffington Post and the rest of the article on Prevention by clicking the link in the previous paragraph.

I enjoy my daily dose of dark chocolate with a cup of coffee or herbal tea in the late morning.  It also goes well with a cup of warm milk flavoured with 1/2 tsp of virgin coconut oil. Sometimes I will spread a little bit of organic peanut butter on top for extra pleasure. I also use raw dark cacao powder which is easily added to baked goods, smoothies, morning coffee, etc.

Remember – an ounce a day can help keep the doctor away!

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