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Nutritional Benefits of Chocolate?

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Author: Clark Bailey

Have you ever thought about what you are really getting out of that chocolate candy bar? Sure, it tastes good but what else are you getting?

Some interesting facts to consider:

Chocolate candy is a form of confectionery typically loaded with refined sugar. Tastes great but it can lead to type 2 diabetes, obesity and tooth decay. Obesity and diabetes are two of the most common maladies assaulting both adults and children in today's society. Our dietary habits have a lot to do with that. We tend to get too much "processed" or refined sugars and saturated fat. John Yudkin, a British physiologist and scientist performed extensive research and studies on the effects of sugar. He concluded that refined sugar is also closely associated to coronary heart disease.

Other prominent ingredients in many chocolate products are milk fat and hydrogenated oil which provide the high fat content in confectionery-type chocolates. Although our bodies require a certain amount of essential fatty acids, numerous studies have shown that an excess of saturated fats (particularly from palmitic and stearic acid) increases the risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Atherosclerosis is commonly referred to as "hardening of the arteries" and is, basically, the accumulation of plaque within the arteries and often leads to strokes.

On the good side, chocolate in its pure form has been known for centuries to possess nutritional benefits. Although ancient Mesoamericans may not have known the scientific reasons, they valued cocoa as a nutritional food. In recent years, scientific studies have been discovering the reasons behind what these ancients knew. Without getting into all of the technical discussion about flavonoids, polyphenol, procyanidins and phytonutrients, scientific studies have shown that chocolate, more specifically, pure cocoa from the cacao plant, is a great source of antioxidants.

Why are antioxidants important? These nutrients help to improve the body's oxygen radical absorption capacity (ORAC) and are believed to combat oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is a process associated with some neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases. Some studies also suggest that antioxidants help the body fight cancer.

As one can see, pure "chocolate" (cocoa) is actually believed to be a good thing. It's not the chocolate that harms our bodies, but, rather the process and additives used to make many of the confectionery type chocolate "candy" we love.

Even better news - it is possible to enjoy the great taste of dark chocolate and cocoa products and realize their healthy benefits. The keys are finding products that are not stripped of the nutritional components they naturally possess. When looking for healthy chocolate products, look for those that have not been alkylized (as in the "dutching" process used to make many confectionery products). Also, look for chocolates that have been dried and cool-pressed rather than roasted as temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit destroy the antioxidants.

Some other key factors to consider when purchasing chocolate products: Healthy chocolate products should be sweetened with low-glycemic sweeteners (e.g., raw cane) rather than refined or processed sugars. The product you choose should contain at least 70% pure cocoa (cocoa powder) and use cocoa butter rather than milk fats or hydrogenated oils.

There are a number of healthy chocolate products on the market. We have chosen to include a particular line in our health store because we love chocolate and believe in enjoying what nature has provided us in as healthy a manner as possible.

I hope you have found this article to be informative and interesting. If you have any questions or would like to provide feedback, please feel free to contact me at clarkbailey@baileyshealthstore.com.

Owner of Baileys Health Store (http://www.baileyshealthstore) and Baileys Bounty (http://www.baileysbounty.com). Snow skiing and playing keyboards are my favorite hobbies and I enjoy spending time with my family. I always appreciate encouraging and constructive feedback from customers and readers.


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