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Τετάρτη, 23 Δεκεμβρίου 2009

A Dark Chocolate a Day, Keeps the Doctor Away!



The Aztecs and the Mayas were wise. Chocolate, the food of the gods, as they called it, became something of a god-sent gift for them. And for a very good reason too. It was believed to fight fatigue, an element that today’s scientists believe is most probably attributed to its theobromine content.

Chocolate contains theobromine and phenethylamine , two elements that have physiological effects on the body and have been found to be linked with the serotonin levels in the brain. Chocolate and especially dark chocolate has a number of positive effects, it can lower blood pressure and has a substantial amount of antioxidants that reduce the formation of free radicals which control the aging process. Dark chocolate also benefits the circulatory system and may reduce arterial hardening, it is a good brain stimulator and cough preventer, it has anticancer and antidiarrhoeal effects.

- Dark chocolate is good for pregnant women because it protects them from high blood pressure problems and secures them against the chance of contracting preeclampsia, which is a major pregnancy complication that involves hypertension in 8 out of a 100 pregnancies.
- Dark chocolate is good for athletes because it speeds up their muscle recovery after rigorous training and prevents muscle damage.
- It can delay brain function decline especially among aged people
- Cocoa-based prescription drugs can potentially solve a host of other diseases like diabetes and dementia.
- Chocolate can also act as a stimulant. While it is a mild stimulant for humans, it is a lot more potent for horses and its use is prohibited in horse races.
- Cornell University food scientists have discovered that cocoa powder has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine, and up to three times the antioxidants of green tea. Raw cocoa on the other hand has the highest antioxidant value than all the natural fruits in the world. 

What is it with women and chocolate?

58% of women crave chocolate when they want something to boost them. 53% of adult women in the UK have confessed they would rather have chocolate than sex! One in 5 admitted they couldn't go a day without chocolate.


Cocoa is a good medicine against depression. Isn’t that, after all, the reason we reach for a delicious bar of chocolate every time we feel down?

But the million dollar question is…

Is chocolate responsible for acne?

Contrary to what we may have heard from various sources, the truly pure dark chocolate is actually good for the health of your skin, hair and nails. Scientists do not point to chocolate for the cause of acne, but rather to the high concentration of sugar, corn syrup and other carbohydrates, chocolate products may contain. Chocolate itself is rich in sulfur, the so-called “beauty” mineral and promotes a healthy and beautiful skin, it helps detoxify the liver and regulates the healthy functioning of the pancreas. Studies have shown that it can also protect your skin from sunburns, premature aging and skin cancer.

And if you still do not believe me, click on the underlined link to read the following article about:

Acne Care Chocolate Bars  by the Daily Mail

Slimming chocolate

Dark chocolate has got appetite-suppressant properties which can help you lose weight!

And if you still worry about keeping fit and slim, you shouldn’t. A great majority of the fats contained in a bar of dark chocolate does not have any negative impact on your cholesterol. As a measure, it is advisable to consume:

- 100 grams of dark chocolate a day ( a 65% cocoa concentration at least) or
- A cup of hot cocoa (2 ounces of cocoa)

It seems there isn’t a thing that dark chocolate won’t do!

Having said that, milk chocolate and white chocolate cannot claim any of the above healthy benefits.

To give you an example,  let at this moment compare two different kinds of chocolate to get an idea : a) quality chocolate and b) mass-produced milk chocolate

Quality chocolate



56-70% cocoa solids, to include 31% cocoa butter
29-43% sugar
1% lecithin and pure vanilla extract

Mass-produced milk chocolate



11% cocoa solids
3% vegetable fat
20% milk solids
65% sugar
1% lecithin and synthetic vanillin

Source: McFadden, C. 2000. Chocolate - A Celebration of the World's Most Additive Food. London:Hermes House.

Only a teensy weensy problem

Toxicity in animals, such as cats, dogs, parrots, horses, rodents, etc. can be a problem because their body is unable to metabolize the theobromine contained in chocolate, correctly. This, in turn, can lead to heart attacks, vomiting, epileptic seizures, internal bleeding and eventually death. The good news is that white chocolate (but not milk chocolate) which does not contain theobromine, if given in small amounts, should pose no threat to animals.