As Valentines day approaches, I thought it might be fitting to discuss the health benefits of chocolate. You may be surprised to discover that because chocolate comes from a plant, it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are as a result of flavinoids, which act as antioxidants. Antioxidants protect the body from aging caused by free radicals. Dark chocolate contains a large number of antioxidants (nearly 8 times the number found in strawberries). Flavonoids also help relax blood pressure through the production of nitric oxide, and balance certain hormones in the body
Studies have shown dark chocolate and cocoa may be good for your heart. In short-term clinical trials, dark chocolate has reduced blood pressure, improved blood flow, showed mild anti-clotting effects and may help prevent plaque formation in arteries.
The more chocolate is processed, the fewer flavonoids it retains – therefore reducing its antioxidant abilities and its potential health benefits. Dark chocolate has the most flavonoids, almost four times as many as milk chocolate, while white chocolate has none. When thinking of what to buy for yourself or your sweetheart, always choose good quality and at least 70% cocoa for maximum health benefits.