Chocolate health is all the rage these days because scientists have recently learned that cocoa contains tons of wonderful free radical neutralizers called antioxidants. How fortunate for all the chocolate fanatics in the world and there are lots of us out there.
To get just a little more detailed, it's not just any antioxidants that you can get through chocolate. Specifically, you can get a class of antioxidants called flavonoids by eating great-tasting healthy chocolate.
Of course, it has to be pure, unprocessed cocoa without a lot of garbage (sugar, fat, chemicals) added to it. If the chocolate has been alkalized or "dutched", you might as well just throw it out, since it will no longer do you any good.
Flavonoids, a phytochemical, are found naturally in plants and they are what give the plant it's rich color spectrum. They are not critical for plant growth but they are critical for the plant to be healthy. It's the same for people. It is not critical for us to eat flavonoids to stay alive, but if we want to be healthy, we must consume them in large quantities.
When we eat foods that are high in flavonoids, we make it possible for our bodies to produce critical disease-fighting enzymes. So, it's not the flavonoids by themselves that are important, but it is all about what these flavonoids make it possible for our bodies to do and that is protect us from serious chronic degenerative disease.
Chocolate health is no joke. The flavonoids found in the cacao bean are very powerful. They are called catechins and epicatechins and are from the phytochemical group called Flavan-3-ols. This groups includes epicatechins, epicatechin gallate, epigallocatechin and epigallocatechin gallate.
This group of flavonoids are found in tea, red wine, cocoa powder, dark chocolate, red, purple and black grapes and plums. They are from the blue/purple color group.
Improves cardiovascular health
Improves immune function
Increases sports/athletic performance
Reduces diabetes risk
Increases cancer cell protection
Minimizes oxidation of harmful cholesterol
Improves oral health
Improves eye/visual health
Assists with weight control
Improves skin health
Reduces risk of dementia
Improves brain health
Reduces risk of stroke
Stimulates activity of detoxification enzymes
Stabilizes blood sugar levels
Stimulates production of nitric oxide
Neutralizes free radicals
Reverses free radical damage