Sweet News: New Study Reveals Many Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

Sweet News: New Study Reveals Many Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate
By Matthew McCabe
Published June 9th, 2014


Sweet News: New Study Reveals Many Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

We are often told that many of the foods we enjoy the most are not good for us. In many cases, particularly with sweets and desserts, the foods we love the most are the ones that are the worst for our health. One exception has always been dark chocolate. For centuries the health benefits of consuming dark chocolate have been driven home, but no one has really been able to explain just why dark chocolate was healthy for the body.
 
Now a new study presented by the American Chemical Society in March suggests that dark chocolate is processed into anti-inflammatories in the body that can be good for the heart. The results of the study were unveiled at the American Chemical Society's National Meeting & Exposition in Dallas, Texas.
 
What the Study Found
When dark chocolate is digested in the body it is converted into long molecules called polyphenolic polymers. Too large to pass through the walls of the human stomach and GI tract, these long molecules would be useless if it weren't for some chocolate-loving microbes in the human intestinal tract.
 
These microbes, known as Bifidobacterium, inhabit the human colon and break down the long molecules left behind. The result of this fermentation process is an anti-inflammatory compound that is small enough to pass through the walls of the gut and be used in the body. The particular type of anti-inflammatory compound can delay and even prevent cardiovascular diseases related to inflammation.
 
The results of the study build upon a series of other studies conducted recently that suggest dark chocolate can lead to dilation in blood vessels. The result dilation helps lower blood pressure, but it is only possible with dark chocolate and not milk or white chocolate.
 
The Type of Chocolate Makes a Difference
Milk chocolate and white chocolate cannot offer the same health benefits of dark chocolate because they are highly processed compared to most dark chocolate treats. Dark chocolate is closer in formulation to natural cocoa, which has a bitter and almost pungent taste due to high levels of flavanols.
 
When chocolate is processed during the creation of milk and white chocolate treats, the level of flavanols are lost. While this removes the taste that many people would not enjoy, it also removes many of the beneficial health elements naturally found in cocoa. To make matters worse for milk and white chocolate, many of these treats are processed into bars or other confections that have high levels of sugar and fats that further negate the health benefits of cocoa.
 
Other Benefits
In addition to its heart healthy benefits, dark chocolate has more to offer the human body because it is generally less-processed than its compatriots. Natural cocoa contains high levels of flavonoids and antioxidants. Flavonoids help protect plants from environmental toxins and aid in repairing damage. Meanwhile, antioxidants are beneficial in the human diet by neutralizing the impact of free radicals created in the body during natural processes.