Dark chocolate rich in flavonoids -- plant-based antioxidants -- appears to protect against skin cancer and promote healthy skin, a study by German researchers found.
The study involved 24 women who added hot cocoa to their breakfasts daily for about three months. Half received cocoa that contained 329 milligrams of flavanols while the rest received a placebo cocoa that contained only 27 mg of flavanols per serving.
At the end of the study results showed that women who drank the flavonoid-rich cocoa:
The researchers suspect the flavonoids may work by increasing blood flow and fighting free radicals.
The cocoa used in the study is not yet commercially available, but researchers said the flavonoid amounts used were similar to those found in a little over three ounces of dark chocolate.
From a nutritional perspective, most of you know that there are better foods to eat than chocolate, though from a pleasure perspective I'm sure many of you would disagree. So when someone asks me if they should eat chocolate, I think they already know the answer.
However, you might be reluctant to give up chocolate even though you know it's not the best food out there, and I'm also aware that you may feel you are depriving yourself if you don't allow yourself a treat every so often.
So, if you're going to eat chocolate there are some points to consider:
Dark Chocolate is Superior
Dark chocolate has many beneficial polyphenolic bioflavanoids that have powerful antioxidant properties, which can actually help to protect you from damaging oxidative stress.
It appears that adding milk to the chocolate cancels out the antioxidant effects, according to a study published in the journal Nature. Researchers suggested that proteins in the milk bind with the antioxidants, making them less easily absorbed by the body.
It's not surprising that adding milk to chocolate makes it less healthy when you consider the effects pasteurized milk has on your body.
In another study published in JAMA researchers found that plant substances called polyphenols found in dark chocolate may help to lower blood pressure.
Earlier studies have even shown that eating chocolate in moderation can lead to a longer life.
If You're Not Healthy, Don't Eat It
Chocolate, even if it is dark, typically contains large quantities of sugar, and eating sugar is one of the most devastating things you can do to your health. If you're sick, your immune system is working hard to combat your illness, but sugar weakens the immune system. So eating chocolate will only make it harder for your immune system to fight the illness.
If you have a chronic health problem, the most important physical thing you can do for your health is to stop all sugar. If you want to know more about the negative effects of sugar, check out Nancy Appleton's article, "124 Ways Sugar Can Ruin Your Health."
If you are healthy, small amounts of dark chocolate are not likely to be a problem.
Avoid Eating Too Much Chocolate
Even if you're healthy, you don't want to eat huge amounts of chocolate. The key is to eat it in moderation (something like once every two weeks) and enjoy it when you eat it. A small bit of chocolate can be very satisfying if you savor each bite, rather than just wolfing it down.
It's also important to recognize when you eat chocolate. If you are constantly craving sweets, you are likely not eating the correct balance of protein, fats and carbohydrates for your nutritional type. If you tend to crave chocolate when you are upset, bored or lonely, then you could benefit from resolving these underlying emotional issues (and we all have them) that are driving you to seek comfort from chocolate.
It's also possible to be addicted to chocolate. If you have chocolate cravings that are just too strong to pass up, then this likely applies to you. The Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is a simple method that can help you to break free from this addiction, and you can learn how to do it by reviewing my free 25-page EFT manual.
And if you are not addicted to chocolate but just want a healthy alternative that will curb your craving for sweets or chocolate, try our new energy bar - the Protein Bar. Specially formulated by myself and a team of nutritional experts, Protein Bar is a nutritional powerhouse loaded with a perfect balance of healthy fats, protein and fiber that will truly nourish your body rather than contribute to disease (like so many of the unhealthy bars on the market today do) ... Plus, it really tastes delicious!