Monday, July 7, 2014

Chocolate: The Super Food, but seriously folks, chocolate is amazing for you,
grab your nearest cacao treat and read on...
Let me start by saying HAPPY NATIONAL CHOCOLATE DAY!
This post couldn't be more appropriately timed.

To set the record straight, the cacao bean is what carries all of the benefits. Milk chocolate, or even worse white chocolate don't contain very much of cacao itself, and are instead full of sugar, butter, and milk... You know, the not so friendly to your waistline ingredients. However, dark chocolate, specifically 70% or higher, have as you read 70% or higher of cacao in them. This means that though there is still sugar and what not, there is less, and you can still reap the benefits of cacao in your tasty treat. 

So what are the benefits you ask? Well, cacao is packed with healthy chemicals called flavonoids and theobromine; both of which have amazing capabilities. Such as...
Steady Heart, Stable Blood Sugar, Satisfaction, Stress Relief, Sun Protection, Smarts and Smiles to name a few.
Studies have shown that having a piece of dark chocolate daily lowers blood pressure and reduce risk of heart attack or stroke by thirty-nine percent. Indulging in the goodness can lower risk of heart failure by a third. In another study done in Italy, subjects who ate a candy bar's worth of dark chocolate daily for fifteen days saw their potential for insulin resistance cut in half. "Flavonoids increase nitric oxide production, and that helps control insulin sensitivity." (lead researcher Claudio Ferri, M.D., a professor at the University of L'Aquila in Italy) Other studies show (University of Copenhagen) that dark chocolate releases more satiety than other sweets, thus giving you satisfaction after a just small piece and curbs cravings and keeps you from over eating it or other fatty foods. If you're able to get your fix in a much smaller quantity, you're preventing weight gain due to junk food; basically chocolate makes you skinny.(;
. Another study shows that drinking flavonol rich cocoa boosts blood flow to vital parts of the brain, which can improve performance and alertness for a few hours. So giving a presentation or taking an important exam? Pop a square in prior, just be sure to brush your teeth before that big meeting. Other researchers (Oxford University and Norway) looked at chocolate's long-term effects on the brain in studies of the diets of over two thousand elderly (above 70) with conclusions that those who consumed flavanol-rich chocolate scored significantly higher on cognitive tests. Swiss scientists, go figure, found that when given an ounce and a half of dark chocolate every day for two weeks, their anxious participants' stress levels were significantly reduced and the metabolic effects of stress were partially mitigated. Researchers in London discovered that after three months of eating chocolate with high levels of flavanols, their subjects' skin took twice as long to develop the beginning effects of a sunburn. So spend the day on the beach nibbling dark chocolate covered coconut, and be sure to moisturize with cocao butter afterward. The sun releases endorphins as well, so this makes for a happy happy day. So you see, it's science people; EAT MORE DARK CHOCOLATE!
As if you needed another reason to love cacao, besides the plethora of health benefits and the rocking happy dance it makes your mouth do... it can also save endangered species. SHUT THE FRONT DOOR. This bean is a super hero! In a recent trip to Grocery Heaven Whole Foods, I came eye to eye with this beautiful black beauty; the jaguar on the wrapper of a candy bar that read Endangered Species 88% Dark Chocolate. Proceeds from the sales go to conservation of endangered species. Go ahead and just take my wallet now, because the darkest of chocolate and animals are my weakest spots. On that trip I only got the one flavor I saw, but I immediately looked up the genius brand and discovered they have several awesome varieties of chocolate and adorable creatures to swoon over. (Update: I then found the gloriousness that is 72% with espresso beans, which is pretty much my what my blood is made of. See the precious tiger at the top of this post.) Obviously, I plan to stock up on a jungle-safari-forest-ocean full of these perfect products. In fact, I vowed them to be my only chocolate purchases, as they are for such an awesome cause.
You're welcome!(;
***I was in no way compensated for my opinions of Endangered Species Chocolate, I truly just love their products. However, I would totally be open to making a deal should they contact me.(;***
ps. Facts in this post are my own writing from several bits of research I've done on the subject, I've credited to my best knowledge where certain studies were from.

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